Barring bad weather, state wildlife officials say all the pieces are in place for a successful gun deer season, which opens Saturday, Nov. 19, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 27.
“I sincerely hope everyone who enjoys and cherishes the traditions and excitement of deer hunting can find time to spend sharing these special days with family and friends,” state Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp said. “Wisconsin is a special place when it comes to deer and deer hunting and I want to wish everyone a safe, enjoyable and successful hunt.”
While portions of the state (96 deer management units) are included in herd control or chronic wasting disease seasons that allow for additional harvest to curtail growth, 38 DMUs will have limited or no antlerless harvest to regulate or allow for herd growth.
Eight DMUs in the northern forest will have buck-only hunting during the archery and gun deer seasons. Some exceptions may apply to qualified members of the U.S. Armed Forces who are home on furlough or leave; Class A and C disabled permit hunters; and youth ages 10-17 who have an unused any DMU antlerless tag.
New in 2011, youth hunters ages 10-17 who purchase a firearm deer license will automatically be issued an antlerless permit that can be used with a gun or bow in any DMU statewide.
The elimination of earn-a-buck outside of the CWD management zone in 2009 allowed hunters to take bucks and pass on antlerless deer.
Hunters are reminded that coyote hunting is closed in approximately the northern third of the state if any gun or muzzleloader deer hunt is in progress. See the 2011 Wisconsin Deer Hunting or Small Game Regulations for the southern boundary of the closed area.
Hunters may harvest deer with archery equipment during the nine-day gun deer season, but must observe blaze orange hunting clothing rules. The archery season for deer is Sept. 17 to Nov. 17 and Nov. 19 to Jan. 8. The archery season is closed Nov. 18.
The DNR launched the Wisconsin Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey reporting system in 2009 to allow deer hunters to report what they were seeing out in the field. Many hunters took advantage of this opportunity and observations from roughly 20,000 hunting trips were reported. The countless hours put into the field by hunters are a valuable source of information for creating indices of wildlife presence and abundance throughout the state.
The online wildlife observation reporting system will once again be available for the 2011 deer hunting season through Jan. 8. Wildlife officials hope archery and gun deer hunters from all corners of the state continue to take part in the survey and for new hunters to begin participating. A field observation sheet is available for hunters to keep track of their observations throughout the season so they can enter their data at a later time.
Data collected will become more meaningful as the number of survey years increases to show wildlife population and distribution trends over time. The more hunting trips reported by deer management unit, the more significant the data will become. Final results from the 2010 web survey and comparisons to 2009 can be found on the Wildlife Survey Reports page of the DNR web site, dnr.wi.gov.
Regular unit deer populations are at or near goal in these deer management units. For the 2011 season, most regular units will have a limited number of unit-specific antlerless deer carcass tags available.
Hunters may purchase one antlerless tag per day. Fees are $12 each for state residents or $20 each for nonresidents. Units with lower numbers of available permits can be expected to sell out quickly. The supply of available permits in units with high numbers can be expected to last longer. Hunters may want to monitor permit availability online, which is updated periodically.
Eight regular units will not have any unit-specific antlerless tags available in 2011: 3, 7, 29B, 34, 35, 39, 44 and 45. These units are below deer population goals. Only certain hunters will be allowed to harvest antlerless deer in these units.
Herd control units
Herd control units are designated when deer population estimates are 20 percent or more above established overwinter goals.
The 2011 Wisconsin gun and archery deer hunting licenses will each include one free antlerless deer carcass tag that may be used in any of the 74 herd control or 22 CWD units. Archery licenses will include a second antlerless tag which is also valid in herd control units. There is no limit to how many additional antlerless deer carcass tags can be purchased at $2 each for use in herd control units.
State park units
State Park units 23A, 52A, 57D, 59E, 61A, 64A, 69C, 72A, 73A, 77D, 77E and 80C allow deer hunting during one or more deer hunting seasons. Hunters wishing to hunt in these state parks must purchase a $3 state park access permit online or at any DNR license location for the state park of their choice. Available permits for many parks have already been sold out. A state park sticker is required for all vehicles in a state park.
Check the State Parks and Trails Hunting Opportunities page of the DNR web site for more information on hunting within state parks, trails and recreation area properties.
A four-day December antlerless-only deer hunt will be held Dec. 8-11. Unlike the October antlerless-only gun hunt, this hunt will take place in all DMUs statewide, except state parks outside of the CWD Management Zone and nonquota areas.
Hunters will need to possess or be in a group that has at least one antlerless deer carcass tag valid for the unit which they will be hunting in. Unit-specific tags will not be available for eight regular units in northern Wisconsin. All gun and archery deer hunters and small game hunters are required to meet blaze orange requirements during this hunt statewide.
Deer populations in the Northeast District, which includes Waupaca, Waushara, Winnebago, Outagamie and Shawano counties, are up after two consecutive years of conservative antlerless harvest and good fawn production in 2010, according to wildlife supervisor Jeff Pritzl.
“All of our deer management units south of State Highway 64 and DMU 51A to the north remain in herd control status,” he said. “Although deer numbers are highly variable on the landscape, unites in herd control status are poised for a population spike that will require more aggressive antlerless harvests in the future. Hunting parties should strive to harvest at least two antlerless deer for each buck taken to their part to maintain the flexible harvest options that we have had the previous two seasons.”
Antlerless harvests dropped dramatically in farmland units with the absence of earn-a-buck requirements in 2009 and 2010, while deer herds grew, Pritzl said.
“Fawn productivity will likely be good again this year and although some hunters will remain understandably conservative with antlerless harvest in pockets of low deer numbers, farmland unit hunters generally need to be comfortable harvesting antlerless deer in order to avoid another spike in the herd that will require more aggressive harvest regulations in the future,” he said.