MADISON — Opening weekend of the gun deer season, a special time of year for hunters throughout Wisconsin, is less than a week away.
This year, hunters will see some important rule changes implemented as a result of Deer Trustee Report recommendations and extensive input from the hunting public.
While many of your favorite hunting traditions will endure, hunters are encouraged to take some time this week to make sure they are ready for any rule changes that will affect their hunt.
“Many of the most common questions that we have received about these rules involve tagging deer and what tag they can use,” said Kevin Wallenfang, big game ecologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “To answer their questions, we first tell them to focus only on the area where they hunt. If they know their county and other basic information, they will have no problem learning this season’s new rules.”
Some new rules include new management zones:
• The state has been divided into four Deer Managment Zones that impact bonus permit availability and deer season structure. Nine Deer Management Units (DMUs) are split by zone boundaries. See the map on page 24 at this link for more details.
• The DMUs have been changed and are now designated by county and tribal reservation boundaries. See the map on page 24 at this link for details.
• The CWD Management Zone has been dissolved. There is now a CWD Affected Area, that includes all counties where baiting and feeding are prohibited. See pages 28 – 33 for details.
• The new crossbow deer season runs concurrently with the archery deer season (September 13 – January 4, 2015). See page 8 for details.
• The purchase of an archer license does not allow the use of crossbows. See page 10 for details.
• The bow and crossbow deer seasons now remain open statewide the day before the November 9-day Gun Deer Season.
• Sighting in firearms and small game hunting with firearms are now allowed statewide on the day before the November 9-day Gun Deer Season.
• The December 4-day antlerless-only hunt will now only occur in the Central Farmland and Central Forest Zones.
• The Holiday Hunt has been shortened, occurs within the Southern Farmland Zone and only antlerless deer may be taken by firearm, bow and crossbow. See page 8 for details.
tags and licenses
• The free statewide Archery-only Antlerless Deer Carcass Tag is no longer available.
• The allowable uses of carcass tags have changed. See pages 14 – 15 for details.
• There are no longer free CWD Management Zone or $2 Herd Control carcass tags.
• Youth hunters will receive a carcass tag valid for an antlerless deer statewide with each deer license.
• Class A and C disabled hunters will receive a free Farmland Antlerless Deer Carcass Tag that will be valid for an antlerless deer statewide with each deer license. See page 13 for details.
• State parks are no longer designated as individual DMUs. Hunting access permits are no longer required to hunt in state parks, but vehicle admission stickers are still required.
Bonus antlerless Deer permits
• Bonus permits are valid only in the Zone, DMU and property type (public or private) indicated on the carcass tag.
• Bonus permits are now public and private land-specific. See page 14 – 15 for details.
• In 2014, all hunters must register their deer in person at a DNR registration station, unless selected in advance by the department to participate in the electronic registration pilot program.
• Deer must now be registered by 5 p.m. the day after harvest; except during the period which covers the November 9-day gun deer season, when the registration deadline for all deer is December 1 at 5 p.m., the day after the season ends. See page 13 for details.
• While afield, no person may possess or transport another hunter’s deer, even after it
has been registered, unless accompanied by the person issued the carcass tag which is attached to the deer, except that anyone may still transport another person’s registered deer on a public road or possess it at a residence, camp or business. See page 22 – 23 for details.
The department has provided a number of useful resources to help hunters learn the new rules. All hunters are encouraged to review the 2014 deer hunting regulations [PDF] and FAQs, available at dnr.wi.gov, keyword “deer.” The deer page also features regulations brochures, tag information and availability, and maps showing new management units and zones.
To ask specific questions before or during the hunt, hunters can also contact the DNR Call Center toll-free at 1-888-WDNRINFo (1-888-936-7463). Call center staff are on hand seven days per week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Spanish- and Hmong-speaking representatives are also available.
Hunters will also have multiple opportunities to interact directly with DNR wildlife, law enforcement and customer service specialists during a series of online chats leading up to opening weekend of the gun deer season. These chats are an excellent way to get questions answered and become better informed on topics of concern to Wisconsin’s hunters.
Upcoming chat topics include:
- Tuesday, Nov. 18 – Deer hunt forecast
- Wednesday, Nov.19 – Where to hunt;
- Thursday, Nov. 20 – Safety and regulations; and
- Friday, Nov.21 – Women/ youth in hunting and favorite traditions.
Wallenfang encourages all hunters to take some extra time to review the new rules before heading into the field this weekend.
“It will help prevent confusion and frustration so hunters can focus on enjoying this exciting week with family and friends, and hopefully bringing home your deer,” he said.