Wisconsin officials optimistic about gun hunt

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin’s nine-day gun deer season opens Saturday and Department of Natural Resources staff are enthusiastic about the prospects.

“We are coming out of a third straight mild winter and a good summer growing season, so as expected we are seeing good to excellent deer numbers throughout most of the state,” DNR big game ecologist Kevin Wallenfang said. “The public and County Deer Advisory Councils are also recognizing the increase as is evident by increased antlerless tag availability, especially in some northern counties. So, in general, we are anticipating an overall increase in deer registration this fall.”

The local forecast calls for a chance of snow early Saturday, and then mostly cloudy with a high near 34.

In 2016, far northern portions of Wisconsin saw an overall gun season increase of approximately 30 percent, while the total deer harvest, including gun, crossbow, and archery, increased by roughly 22 percent.

“In the past, the majority of the annual deer harvest came during the nine-day gun season,” Wallenfang said, “but for decades there has been a growing percentage of the total fall harvest coming during the early archery seasons. “

Wallenfang also noted that hunters need to become familiar with the new deer tagging requirements, baiting restrictions, new tree stand rules, and a reduction in the number of buck-only units. This year marks the third year of electronic deer registration through GameReg.

Wisconsin’s four Deer Management Zones and county-based Deer Management Units have not changed in 2017. DMUs follow county boundaries in most cases, and nine DMUs are split by zone boundaries. DMU and land type-specific antlerless permits are intended to help manage deer populations more closely on each land type with the hope of enhancing hunting experiences on public land.

With each deer hunting license (archery/crossbow and gun), hunters receive one Buck Deer Tag valid statewide.

Hunters are no longer required to validate paper carcass tags or attach them to harvested deer. It is also no longer required to keep the tag with the meat. However, hunters must carry one of the forms of proof of a deer tag.