Special seasons offer more deer hunting opportunities

Dan Hansen, Correspondent


Much of the deer hunting framework from past seasons continues in place for 2016. However, special seasons in certain management units in several areas of the state can provide more days afield for many hunters.

The crossbow / archery season that began on Sept.17, will continue through Jan. 8, 2017 Hunters need to purchase a crossbow license or archer/crossbow upgrade to hunt with a crossbow. 

The traditional 9-day gun deer season again opens the Saturday before Thanksgiving. This year it runs from November 19 — 27. 

Thanks to sound deer management and good habitat, hunters have the opportunity to harvest trophy bucks like this in many areas of the state.

The 10-day muzzleloader season opens immediately following the 9-day gun season. The season runs from November 28 — December 7 .

The statewide December 4-day antlerless-only hunt is once again part of the season framework. The hunt runs from December 8 — 11. During this season, all deer hunters may only harvest antlerless deer; No buck harvest is not allowed. 

Holiday Hunt

The antlerless-only Holiday Hunt will be offered in select deer management Units (DMUs) and will run from December 24, 2016—January 1, 2017. 

DMUs offering the holiday hunt in 2016 are: Brown, Columbia, Crawford, Green Lake, Marinette (Farmland Zone portion only), Marquette, Milwaukee, Pepin, Richland, Rock, Sauk, Waukesha and Waupaca. 

Only antlerless deer may be harvested with any weapon type during this season, in the listed DMUs. Buck hunting is allowed by archery/ crossbow hunters in any DMU not included in the holiday hunt.

Deer Management Zones, Units 

Deer management zones and DMUs remain unchanged from last year. However, deer hunters should be familiar with the zone, DMU and land type (public access or private) in which they plan to hunt. 

Hunters will need this information for their Farmland (Zone 2) Antlerless Deer Tag(s) and any Bonus Antlerless Tags that they purchase. All antlerless tags must be filled only in the zone, DMU and land type designated on the tag. 

For registration purposes, it is important that hunters properly enter the information regarding where they harvested the deer. For example, if a hunter shot an antlerless deer in Taylor County, the deer would be registered in the Northern Forest (Zone 1), the Taylor DMU and the land type (public or private) listed on the tag. 

Ten county DMUs, in whole or in part, are designated as buck-only units. All buck-only units are restricted to the Northern and Central Forest zones and include Ashland, Bayfield Douglas, Florence, Forest, Iron, Jackson (Forest Zone portion only), Oneida, Sawyer, and Vilas counties. 

Buck tags may not be used to tag a buck during any antlerless-only season. Bonus antlerless tags are not available for purchase in buck-only DMUs, with the exception of the Superior Metro Sub-unit of Douglas County.

Metro sub-units

Six metropolitan areas are designated as sub-units to provide additional hunting opportunity, including extended gun and archery/ crossbow seasons. Hunters wishing to pursue antlerless deer in a metro sub-unit must do so using a valid antlerless deer tag designated for the zone, DMU and land type within the sub-unit where they intend to hunt. 

Some local municipalities may have weapons restrictions – hunters are encouraged to check local ordinances before hunting. Certain metro sub-units offer, at no cost, a Metro Sub-unit Antlerless Deer Tag. A metro sub-unit tag(s) will be issued upon request to any hunter who purchases a deer hunting license. These metro sub-unit tags are only valid within the zone, DMU, metro sub-unit and land type specified on the tag. 

Also, select metro sub-units are offering Bonus Metro Sub-unit Antlerless Deer Tags for the same price as regular bonus antlerless tags. Bonus metro sub-unit antlerless tags are only valid for harvesting an antlerless deer in the zone, DMU, metro sub-unit and land type designated on the tag. 

Tags and licenses

With each deer hunting license, hunters will receive one Buck Deer Carcass Tag valid statewide and Farmland (Zone 2) Antlerless Deer Carcass Tag(s) valid in the zone, DMU, and land type (public access or private) of the buyer’s choosing at time of license purchase. Farmland Zone tags may not be used in the Northern Forest or Central Forest zones, but bonus antlerless tags may be available in these zones. 

All Farmland (Zone 2) tags must be designated for use in a specific zone, DMU and land type (public access or private) at the time of issuance or selection may be deferred until a later date. 

New in 2016, Farmland Zone DMUs may issue more than one Farmland (Zone 2) tag with each license. This allows hunters more opportunities to harvest more deer, if they wish. For more information about farmland zone tags and how many are issued per DMU, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword “antlerless tags.” 

Youth hunters age 10–17 will receive a Junior Antlerless Deer Tag, valid for harvesting one antlerless deer in any unit statewide except Ashland, Forest, and Sawyer counties. One junior antlerless tag is issued with each deer license. Youth hunters are not required to specify zone or DMU, but must indicate a land type where they will attempt to fill this tag. As a reminder, group hunting on these tags is not allowed. Only the youth hunter who was issued the tag may fill it. 

Class A and C disabled hunters will receive Farmland (Zone 2) Antlerless Deer Carcass Tag(s), of which one is valid for an antlerless deer in any DMU statewide, with each deer license.

In order to keep Wisconsin’s rich deer-hunting tradition alive and well, it’s vital to mentor new hunters, especially youth and women.