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DNR reports sales of deer hunting licenses surpass 2011 ahead of final day


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin deer hunters are gearing up for the nine-day gun season that opens Saturday.

And as of Wednesday, the DNR said license sales are no longer behind a year ago, with about a one-percent increase.

About 446,000 gun licenses were sold at last word. But the biggest day for license sales is Friday, so officials won’t know the final trends until later.

An analysis from UW-Madison showed that around 550,000 state residents would buy gun deer licenses – way down from the 644,000 licenses sold in 2000.

Last year, the DNR said 620,000 gun deer permits were sold. And the agency has embarked on a series of steps to make hunting more exciting by boosting the herd – and to better promote Wisconsin’s deep hunting traditions.

Governor Scott Walker led an effort to simplify things, by eliminating the contentious “Earn-a-Buck” program and dropping the October doe season.

Also, the state provided large discounts to first-time hunters, and those who haven’t been out for at least 10 years. They’re paying just $5 for deer tags, well below the normal fee of $24.

Over 15,000 of those special tags were sold as of Thursday.

The DNR is also using social media to promote the hunt. And for the first time, a warden will tweet his observations during Saturday’s Opening Day.