Hunting is a long-established tradition woven into the fabric of Wisconsin’s culture. As hunters new and old make their way into the woods this November, excitement levels are high.
The nine-day gun deer hunting season in Wisconsin begins this Saturday, Nov. 21. The season runs through Sunday, Nov. 29, and is followed by a statewide muzzleloader season from Monday, Nov. 30, through Wednesday, Dec. 9.
“We can definitely feel the excitement as we come up to the nine-day,” said Eric Lobner, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Management Bureau Director. “There’s nothing quite like this time of year when the peak rut starts the final countdown to one of the best times of year in Wisconsin.”
Relatively mild temperatures are in store for the 169th gun opener and hunters should expect plenty of opportunities with the statewide deer herd approaching an estimated two million deer.
Last year, 564,664 people held gun deer licenses. Hunters registered a total of 160,769 deer, compared to 213,972 in 2018.
Hunters should be sure to review this year’s deer regulations and shooting hours, registration requirements and baiting restrictions, as well as other important hunting topics, such as CWD testing and surveillance.
This year marks the fifth year of electronic deer registration through GameReg. Many hunters who used it in the past are realizing the simplicity and convenience of registering by phone, or on their computer or smartphone. Hunters are reminded that registering their is required by 5 p.m. the day following recovery. Those who have not yet used GameReg are encouraged to use a number of resources available to learn more about it, and prepare for success. More GameReg information is available online at https://gowild.wi.gov/wildlife/harvest.
Wisconsin’s four deer management zones and county-based deer management units have not changed in 2020. 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. In addition, each license includes one or more farmland (Zone 2) antlerless deer tag(s) that must be designated for use in a specific zone, DMU and land type (public access or private) at the time of issuance.
Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless tags may not be used in the Northern Forest or Central Forest zones, but bonus antlerless tags may be available for specific DMUs within these zones.
All bonus antlerless deer tags are zone, DMU and land-type specific. Bonus tags cost $12 for residents, $20 for nonresidents and $5 for youth (ages 10 and 11).
As of Tuesday morning, there were 494 public land and 1,851 private land bonus tags remaining in Barron County. All eight counties that border Barron County also had tags available (some private land only).
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. Hunters may show proof of having a valid, unfilled deer tag by providing a conservation warden with their Go Wild card, their authenticated driver’s license, paper copies or an electronic copy on their cell phone. Keep in mind that even with electronic forms of proof of deer tags available, hunters will need the unique tag number to begin the harvest registration process.
The Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters who harvest adult deer to test them for chronic wasting disease.
This year, enhanced CWD surveillance efforts are occurring throughout 18 counties in northern Wisconsin as part of a multiyear rotation across the state to determine where CWD exists on the landscape. Additional surveillance efforts will focus on areas surrounding wild and captive positive detections, as well as in select counties with low sampling numbers in recent years.
While there are focused areas of surveillance, hunters anywhere in Wisconsin can have their deer tested for CWD, and there are a variety of options available to make sampling convenient for hunters. Options for CWD sampling include both in-person service as well as self-service options. Hunters should contact staffed sampling stations in advance to verify hours of operation and should have their harvest authorization number and location of harvest information available when submitting a sample for CWD testing.
24/7 self-service deer head kiosks
• Rice Lake: Barron County Highway Department at 1 West Ave. on west side of city
• Barron: Barron Town Shop at 1301 16th Ave.
• Cumberland: DNR Service Center at 1341 Second Ave.
• Almena Meat Company, Inc. at 741 Garfield St. S.
• Weyerhaeuser: Cenex Gas Station at W14336 Hwy. 8 (accepts deer samples from Barron County as well)
• Ladysmith: DNR Service Center at N4103 Hwy. 27
• Zimmerman Taxidermy at N5015 10th St., Spooner
• Spooner: DNR Service Center at 810 W. Maple St.
Deer Carcass Waste Disposal
Hunters are encouraged to dispose of deer carcass waste in a licensed landfill that accepts this waste or in a dumpster designated for deer carcass waste. If a municipality allows deer disposal curbside or at a transfer station, the carcass should be double bagged. If these options are not available and the deer was harvested on private land, burying the deer carcass waste or returning it to the location of the harvest are the next best options.
• Barron County Waste to Energy Landfill is accepting deer carcass waste at 585 10-1/2 Ave., Almena.
Hunters can find a map with all of the state’s CWD sampling locations and deer carcass disposal locations on the DNR website, https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/WildlifeHabitat/registersample.html, as well as in the Hunt Wild app.
Baiting and Feeding
There are currently baiting and feeding bans in several counties throughout the state. Hunters and landowners should check the DNR baiting and feeding webpage frequently for updates. Baiting/feeding is currently prohibited locally in Barron, Burnett, Washburn, Polk, Dunn and Chippewa counties.
For more information on the 2020 gun deer season, visit https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/adventure/deer.