Many factors worked in favor of Wisconsin deer hunters last year to produce another excellent season. Badger State hunters benefited from the earliest possible gun opener on the calendar, good rut activity during firearm season, and the fact that at least 90 percent of the agricultural crops were harvested by mid-November. These hunting conditions and overall higher deer numbers resulted in a third consecutive year of increased deer harvest.
Bowhunters took the highest number of bucks on record, including a new typical state record. Overall, Wisconsin deer hunters bagged 368,314 whitetails in 2012.
Although many hunters found last year to be a productive season, those in the eastern half of the northern-forested region shot fewer deer. Antlerless permits in many forest units have been conservative in recent years, and they will be even more so in 2013. The number of antlerless deer harvested this fall will be lower simply because hunters will have fewer antlerless permits available.
There are a several changes hunters need to be aware of. The coyote season will no longer close in the northern portion of the state during gun season; baiting is no longer permitted in Washington County; and rifles may be allowed statewide for the 9-day November gun hunt and the 4-day December antlerless gun season (subject to local ordinances). Hunters should contact the Department of Natural Resources in early fall to see if the legislature has approved this last change.
In addition, four units will only allow the harvest of bucks during gun and archery seasons. For most hunters, no antlerless tags will be available for Deer Management Units 7, 29B, 34 and 39. Exceptions include youth deer hunters, Class A and C disabled permit holders, military members, farmers with shooting permits, and those with Chippewa treaty rights.
Metro Units 1M, 59M, 60M, 64M and 77M will be herd control units in 2013. These units will have an extended regular gun season from Nov. 23 – Dec. 11, and an extended archery season ending Jan. 31, 2014.
State Park units 23A, 52A, 57D, 59E, 61A, 64A, 69C, 72A, 73A, 77D, 77E and 80C will allow public deer hunting this fall. Units not located in the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone require the purchase of a $3 state park access permit.