Natural Resources Board approves 2017 deer harvest quotas and season structure

MADISON – The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board approved deer hunting season framework and antlerless deer quotas for 2017 at its May 24 meeting in Madison.

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Final season framework reflects recommendations from County Deer Advisory Councils – 2017 marks the third year these councils have played a key role in Wisconsin’s deer management efforts. In addition to direct feedback from councils, more than 6,500 questionnaires were received during a public input process that ran from April 3-13, 2017.

“I’m looking forward to an excellent deer hunt throughout all the seasons this year – we had another very mild winter, which will bode well for the herd throughout the state, so I anticipate another year of increased harvest,” said Kevin Wallenfang, Department of Natural Resources big game ecologist. “County Deer Advisory Councils worked hard to weigh the many factors and public desires that drive deer herd management, and we thank them for their work in helping to shape this year’s hunting seasons.”

In 2017, four deer management units within the Northern and Central Forest zones will allow only bucks to be harvested, while the rest of Wisconsin will have a total quota of 276,515 antlerless deer (compared to 256,775 in 2016).

A decrease in “buck-only” counties compared to the last two years (12 in 2015 and 10 in 2016) is a good indication that councils and the DNR are seeing herds rebound in Northern Forest Zone counties. As a reminder, rules are in place to allow disabled hunters, military personnel on leave, Deer Management Assistance Program cooperators, and youth hunters (the Junior Antlerless Tag is valid statewide) to harvest antlerless deer in buck-only units. As a result, there will be some antlerless deer harvested in each of the 4 buck-only units in 2017.

The sale of bonus antlerless deer hunting tags will include 31,945 tags valid on public access lands (compared to 22,775 in 2016) and 168,210 tags valid on private lands (compared to 136,875 in 2016). Bonus antlerless tag sales will occur as follows (sales begin each day at 10 a.m.):

  • Monday, Aug. 14 – Northern and Central Forest zones;
  • Tuesday, Aug. 15 – Central Farmland Zone;
  • Wednesday, Aug. 16 – Southern Farmland Zone; and
  • Thursday, Aug. 17 – all remaining bonus tags can be purchased until sold out or the season ends.

In addition, Farmland Zone antlerless tags will be available with the purchase of every deer hunting license. The number of tags offered will depend on the county of choice, which must be indicated at the time of issuance. These tags will be issued as early as June 1.

A Holiday Hunt will be held within 17 counties and provide for an additional antlerless-only opportunity for firearm hunters from Dec. 24, 2017 to Jan.1, 2018.

The department’s deer hunting webpage will be updated within the coming weeks with additional resources regarding the 2017 deer hunting quotas and season framework. To help hunters prepare for the 2017 deer hunt, the following documents are now available at dnr.wi.gov, keyword “deer”:

  • 2017 deer season FAQ;
  • 2017 deer season structure map;
  • 2017 deer season Farmland Zone Tags overview;
  • 2017 deer season Bonus Antlerless Tags overview; and
  • 2017 deer season Metro Sub-unit Tags overview.

To receive email updates and other information regarding deer hunting and season structure in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and select the email icon near the bottom of the page for “subscribe for updates for DNR topics.” Follow the prompts and select “white-tailed deer” within the “hunting” list.