MADISON – Wild turkey and black bear hunters are reminded to submit their applications before midnight on Dec. 10. Applications for permit drawings can be purchased through Go Wild or at authorized license agents.
Harvest numbers from the 2017 black bear season are not yet finalized, but preliminary estimates show that hunters harvested more than 4,150 bears. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff and the Bear Advisory Committee are currently in the process of determining 2018 harvest quotas.
The deadline to apply for 2018 black bear and spring turkey permits is Dec. 10.
Photo Credit: Catherine Khalar
Bear hunters are reminded that due to the high interest in this hunt, hunters must apply for several years before receiving a permit through the drawing process for most bear management zones. In order for bear permit applicants to retain their accumulated preference points, they must apply at least once during any period of three consecutive years or all previously accumulated preference points will be lost.
If a bear management zone is selected at the time of purchase and the hunter is selected in the February drawing, their preference points will be reset to zero, even if they do not purchase the harvest permit. It is the applicant’s responsibility to be aware of drawing status – applicants selected in the drawing will be notified by mail shortly after the drawing, and may purchase their 2018 Class A bear license beginning in March 2018. Applicants may also check their status online through their Go Wild customer account.
The season structure for the 2018 bear hunt is as follows.
Zone C (dogs not permitted):
- Sept. 5 to Oct. 9 – with aid of bait and all other legal methods not using dogs.
All other zones:
- Sept. 5-11 – with the aid of bait and other legal methods not using dogs
- Sept. 12 to Oct. 2 – with all legal methods, including bait and dogs; and
- Oct. 3-9 – aid of dogs only (Bait may be used to locate bear to hunt with the aid of dogs).
For more information, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword “bear.”
Spring 2018 turkey season
Dec.10 is also the deadline to apply for a spring turkey harvest authorization (previously referred to as a tag or permit). These are issued through a preference-based drawing system where Wisconsin residents have preference over non-residents and landowners have preference over non-landowners. For more information on the turkey preference drawing, see the Turkey Frequently Asked Questions.
Applicants may choose up to two time period and zone combinations that they would like to hunt. As a third choice, applicants may also choose one zone in which they will accept a harvest authorization for any time period. This third choice can be the same zone as the first and/or second choice. The second and third choices are optional, but applicants are encouraged to provide second and third choices to maximize their likelihood of success in the drawing.
The harvest authorization drawing will take place in late December. Successful applicants will receive a post card by late January. Applicants can also check their status online through Go Wild.
Successful applicants may purchase their required 2018 Spring Turkey License ($15 for Wisconsin residents and $60 for non-residents) and 2018 Wild Turkey Stamp ($5.25) in early March. Each harvest authorization will be printed at the time of purchase. All hunters are required to possess a valid spring turkey license and wild turkey stamp when they acquire their spring turkey harvest authorization.
Unsuccessful applicants will receive a preference point that will increase their chances of drawing a harvest authorization the following spring season. All leftover harvest authorizations for 2018 spring turkey season will be available for purchase in late March ($10 for residents, $15 for non-residents), plus the cost of the Spring Turkey License and Wild Turkey Stamp.
The 2018 spring turkey season will begin April 14 with the annual Spring Youth Turkey Hunt. The regular turkey season will begin the following Wednesday, April 18, and will consist of six separate seven-day time periods, with the final period closing May 29.
The Spring turkey season is as follows:
- Spring Turkey Youth Hunt – April 14 – 15
- Period A – April 18 – 24
- Period B – April 25 – May 1
- Period C – May 2 – 8
- Period D – May 9 – 15
- Period E – May 16 – 22
- Period F – May 23 – 29
Turkey hunters are reminded that Wisconsin’s state park turkey management zones were eliminated Sept. 1, 2014. However, state parks remain open for hunting for a portion of the spring turkey season. For more information, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords “hunting state parks.”
Harvested turkeys must be registered by 5 p.m. on the day following harvest. Hunters can register their turkey using the GameReg system, either online at or by phone at 1-844-GAMEREG (1-844-426-3734.)
Youth turkey hunt
The annual Spring Turkey Youth Hunt will be held on April 14-15 for hunters ages 15 and younger. Youth hunters 12-15 years must have a Hunter Education Certificate of Accomplishment, unless hunting under the Mentored Hunting Program. Youth under 12 years of age must participate in the Mentored Hunting Program during the two-day youth hunt, even if they have successfully completed a hunter safety education course.
A spring turkey license, stamp, and valid harvest authorization are required to participate in the youth hunt. All other existing turkey hunting rules and regulations apply. Interested youth hunt participants should apply for a spring turkey harvest authorization before the Dec. 10 deadline. A permit for any time period can be used during the two-day youth hunt, but hunters are limited to the zone listed on their hunting authorization.
Applications for turkey hunts for hunters with disabilities are due Dec. 10
Hunters with disabilities who wish to turkey hunt next spring on private land are reminded of an additional opportunity to hunt using a separate application and authorization form.
Applications to conduct a Spring Wild Turkey Hunt for People with Disabilities on private land must be submitted using DNR Forms 2300-271 and 2300-271A. Forms must be submitted before Dec. 10 to a local DNR wildlife biologist or department office for the county where the hunt will take place. Please note that any applicant who applies for a disabled turkey hunt on private lands using the above forms may not apply for a permit through the regular spring turkey drawing.
For more information regarding bear and turkey hunting in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords “bear” or “turkey.”
Those interested in receiving email updates can sign up for the DNR’s GovDelivery service. Visit dnr.wi.gov, and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page to “Subscribe to DNR Updates.”