Increased deer observations following another mild winter has hunters and state wildlife officials alike excited for fall hunting seasons - the 2016 archery and crossbow deer seasons run concurrently statewide from Sept. 17 to Jan. 8, 2017.
"Hunters should expect excellent hunting opportunities in most areas within the central and southern farmland zones, and hopefully see improvements in the forested zones," said Kevin Wallenfang, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources big game ecologist. "With another mild winter, reports of excellent antler growth and good fawn production are common."
Deer hunters in 10 predominantly forested counties will see buck-only hunting again this year as part of continued efforts to rebuild the deer herd in these areas. Throughout the remainder of the state, antlerless hunting opportunities are available through the use of Farmland Zone and bonus antlerless deer tags.
Archery and crossbow deer hunters have a continuous season framework that includes hunting during all gun deer seasons in November and December, plus the option to fill a gun deer tag using crossbow or archery equipment during open firearm seasons.
In its first two years, hunting with a crossbow has provided an additional opportunity for many hunters throughout Wisconsin, and accounts for the highest rate of participation by women than any other deer hunting method. Those interested in using both a conventional bow and crossbow may do so by paying full price for one of the licenses and purchasing a $3 upgrade for the second license. Hunters will use the same buck tag and antlerless tags issued with their first license of choice.
Tree stands and ground blinds used on DNR-managed lands must be removed daily. For other types of property such as county or federally owned lands, contact the property manager to learn about these rules.
Bonus antlerless tags remain available in many deer management units. Bonus tags may be filled with any weapon type during the appropriate season, but must be filled in the zone, county and land type designated on each tag. Bonus tags are available on a first-come, first-served basis at a cost of $12 each for residents, $20 each for non-residents, and $5 for youth hunters age 10-11.
In 2016, up to three Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless tags are included with each deer hunting license, depending on the Deer Management Unit of choice. Hunters who have not yet purchased a license for hunting deer will be prompted to select the unit and land-type for the Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless tags at the point of sale. Licenses may be purchased through the Go Wild website, GoWild.WI.Gov or at any of the more than 1,000 Go Wild license sales locations.
Hunters who purchased their deer hunting licenses earlier in the year, or who have yet to determine hunting location, may defer the Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless tag selection. When ready, hunters may:
- make a tag selection online from their Go Wild account and print themselves;
- request desired tag(s) at a local DNR Service Center; or
- visit a license agent (this will require a $2 processing fee).
2016 Wisconsin Fall Hunting and Trapping Forecast now available
Many fall hunting and trapping seasons in Wisconsin are just around the corner, and the 2016 Fall Hunting and Trapping Forecast [PDF] is now available.
To view this year's hunting and trapping forecast, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "forecast [PDF]" or "hunt."
People who missed three August live chats regarding deer hunting can review chat records online - search keyword "expert" and choose the chat of your choice.
All harvested deer will be registered electronically in 2016. GameReg is simple, fast and convenient for hunters. The system will prompt hunters to answer a series of questions, beginning with the carcass tag number and date of birth.
GameReg will generate a 10-character confirmation number, which must be written on the paper carcass tag that accompanies the harvested animal. Hunters are reminded to carry a pen or pencil to write the 10-character number on the tag. When this registration number is written on the tag, the animal is considered legally registered.
All deer must be registered by 5 p.m. the day after the deer is recovered, and hunters must retain the tag with confirmation number as proof of registration until the deer has been consumed.
Hunters will have three options for registering their deer:
online at GameReg.WI.Gov (fastest and easiest option activating Sept. 1);
by phone at 1-844-426-3734 (1-844-GAME-REG); or
electronically at a participating in-person registration station (keyword "registration stations").
A link to the GameReg system is available through the Pocket Ranger app for mobile devices. For more information regarding electronic registration, search the DNR website for keyword "GameReg."
To receive email updates regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page titled "subscribe for updates for DNR topics," then follow the prompts and select the "white-tailed deer" distribution list (found within the "hunting" list).
Deer hunters are also encouraged to check out the frequently asked questions page for more information regarding changes for 2016. And, remember to check out the carcass tagging FAQ (search keywords "tag it").
For more general information regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin, search keyword "deer."