Preliminary data indicate that the whitetail deer gun hunting season is showing a harvest that’s 20% lower than last year and the blame finger is being pointed all around.

According to News, Tom Hauge, of wildlife management with the DNR, says the DNR’s estimate of the deer populations was probably off “because they used the wrong reproduction or “multiplier” figure against last year’s total harvest.”

“The earlier indications are suggesting that our projections were probably high and that there weren’t as many deer out there as we were projecting,” Hauge said.

That assessment might not agree with others in the Wisconsin DNR. WQOW-TV reports that hunters are calling the DNR office complaining that wolves have ruined their hunt.

The phone lines are red-hot at DNR offices around the state. Many of those callers who say the grey wolf has impacted their hunting experience. But DNR officials say there is a lot more to the story, a story that tracks all the way to Washington D.C.

DNR says with the 550 wolves in the state, the impact on deer populations is minimal. Ed Culhane, a DNR communications specialist, says the reason fewer deer are being harvested is because hunting has changed.

“We are seeing changes in land use, in the way people hunt. If you were to drive around rural Wisconsin 10 or 15 years ago, you would have seen large groups of hunters gathering at various farms. Now you drive around, and you simply don’t see that kind of hunting effort anymore,”

So what is it? Did DNR mess up the estimated deer population or are hunters too lazy to go into the woods and track down a deer? Maybe the 550 estimation of how many wolves are in Wisconsin is as accurate as the screwed up estimation on deer numbers.

Things have changed but I can’t see where making excuses for it is going to get the job done. Unless the state has a viable reason, and one everyone can agree on, as to why the deer harvest was off 20%, maybe they should call in their media personal until they figure it out. All they are managing to do is instill less confidence in the DNR forcing hunters to believe that they can’t do their jobs.

Tom Remington