MADISON – Increased deer observations following another mild winter have hunters and state wildlife officials alike excited for fall hunting seasons – the 2017 archery and crossbow deer seasons run concurrently statewide from Sept. 16 to Jan. 7, 2018.
“I’m hearing a lot of optimism from all corners of the state,” said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources deer and elk ecologist Kevin Wallenfang. “Hunters should expect good to excellent deer numbers in most areas within the central and southern farmland zones, and more deer in the forested zones after several years of no antlerless harvest and mild winters. With our most recent mild winter, reports of excellent antler growth and good fawn production are common.”
In 2016, archery and crossbow hunters combined for one of the highest buck harvests in history, and Wallenfang expects similar, if not an increase, in the buck harvest this year. Deer hunters in just four predominantly forested counties will see buck-only hunting this year. 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 three 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.
In addition, please note that regulations regarding tree stands and ground blinds used on department managed lands have changed for fall 2017. 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 2017, up to five Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless tags are included with each deer hunting license, depending on the Deer Management Unit (DMU) 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).
All harvested deer must be registered electronically by 5 p.m. the day after the deer is recovered. 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.
Hunters will have three options for registering their deer:
- online at GameReg.WI.Gov (fastest and easiest option);
- by phone at 1-844-426-3734 (1-844-GAME-REG); or
- electronically at a participating in-person registration station (keyword “registration stations”).
For more information regarding electronic registration, search “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 2017. 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.”