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Holiday deer hunt expanding

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Gun deer hunters in 17 Wisconsin counties will soon have an additional week to harvest a deer.

After originating in 2002 as a way to reduce the deer herd in Southern Wisconsin's CWD zone, but then going away in 2015, deer advisory councils in 13 farmland counties instituted their first Holiday hunt last year.

Starting Sunday and running through January 1st, 17 counties are holding the antlerless-only hunt this year.

That includes these seven in Northeast Wisconsin: Door, Kewaunee, Brown, Waushara, Waupaca, and southern Oconto and Marinette counties.

"In the Northeast District, we actually lost a couple counties and gained four counties, so we have a net gain this year of two, but that's one of the interesting aspects of the Holiday hunt is that it's an annual decision of the advisory council, so hunters do need to stay plugged in and non-hunters as well because on any given year that Holiday hunt could come or go," says DNR Regional Wildlife Biologist Jeff Pritzl.

Designed as an additional tool to curb the deer population in farmland counties, Pritzl says the hunt also allows hunters to put some extra venison in the freezer--- and spend time with family and friends in the field over the holidays.

"Some families, that's, if they had a choice of what they could do together, deer hunting would be it and here's another week to do it," says Pritzl.

Hunters registered more than 3,300 deer during last year's Holiday hunt, and with more counties on board this year, the harvest numbers are expected to increase.

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