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City Deer Hunt Numbers Way DownSubmitted: 01/28/2013

Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com


RHINELANDER - The DNR gave out a lot of tags for Rhinelander's city deer hunt this season.

But hunters didn't bag many deer.

The bow hunt within city limits ends Thursday.

Hunters have harvested just 10 deer in the hunt so far.

It started in mid-September.

This year will be the lowest total for a full season of hunting in the city hunt's history.

Hunters took 10 deer this year.

But 53 were shot in both 2006 and 2007, the first two years of the hunt.

This year's number is much lower, even though the city and the DNR's Jeremy Holtz gave out more tags than average.

"I guess I wasn't too surprised when people showed interest early, but I did expect a higher harvest rate with the tags that were requested," says Holtz.

The hunt started seven years ago when deer nuisance complaints were high.

People didn't like the number of deer eating their gardens or crossing the road in the city.

The number of those complaints has dropped.

But so has the deer harvest numbers.

"I think there are probably two reasons. There are fewer deer around and I think deer are getting more accustomed to people on top of stands, hunting them," says Blaine Oborn, the Rhinelander City Administrator.

So it seems like the hunt worked.

But Holtz says the reasons for fewer deer might be more complicated.

The drop could also be related to climate during a particular season.

Unusually warm or unusually cold winters (the Northwoods has had at least one of each in the past decade) can also impact deer population.

The city plans to work with Holtz and the DNR to figure out what's best for years to come.

"Maybe we'll take off 2013 next year, or maybe we'll decide to do it again and take off the following year. We'll just continue to evaluate that on a year-to-year basis," says Oborn.

Rhinelander is one of a very few places in Wisconsin with a city deer hunt.

The city will review its deer hunting rules in August.

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