Increased deer observations following another mild winter has hunters and state wildlife officials alike excited for fall hunting seasons – the 2016 archery and crossbow deer seasons run concurrently statewide from Sept. 17 to Jan. 8, 2017.
“Hunters should expect excellent hunting opportunities in most areas within the central and southern farmland zones, and hopefully see improvements in the forested zones,” said Kevin Wallenfang, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources big game ecologist. “With another mild winter, reports of excellent antler growth and good fawn production are common.”
Deer hunters in 10 predominantly forested counties will see buck-only hunting again this year as part of continued efforts to rebuild the deer herd in these areas. 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 two 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.
Tree stands and ground blinds used on DNR-managed lands must be removed daily. 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 2016, up to three Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless tags are included with each deer hunting license, depending on the Deer Management Unit 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).