Hunters encouraged to record wildlife observations during fall hunting seasons

MADISON - With the start of the 2017 deer hunting seasons, the Department of Natural Resources is kicking off its ninth annual Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey, a survey where hunters can record their observations of deer and other wildlife while hunting.

Survey results help track population trends for Wisconsin's deer herd and other wildlife.

Hunters can record all hunting activity throughout the deer season, even if no wildlife sightings were made during a hunt. The observations provide DNR staff with an index of abundance for many wildlife species.

New this year, hunters can report observations using a smartphone app. For more information about entering Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey observations by smartphone, desktop or mail, go to the DNR website,, and keyword search "Deer Hunter Wildlife."

At the end of the survey, participants can receive a personalized summary of all recorded wildlife from that season. The survey period ends in January.

DATE: September 14, 2017
CONTACT: Jessica Rees-Lohr, DNR wildlife research scientist, 608-221-6349


Minnesota Deer Notes – September 2017

It has been a little while since the last Deer Notes but that certainly doesn’t mean a lot of good things haven’t been occurring in the world of deer!

Hunting season

First, with hunting season coming up I also want to make people aware of changes we’ve made to the interactive deer permit area map. These changes include an overview by the local wildlife manager in the detail report link discussing the deer permit area, local deer populations and the anticipated impact of the 2017 management designation. These detailed reports also contain information on public lands and past harvest statistics, making them a great tool for people who want to scout a new area to hunt!

Also, I want to remind hunters that the whole carcass importation ban remains in effect. I sincerely appreciate the extra effort and cooperation of hunters with this change. As a reminder the ban requires hunters to bring back only quarters or meat that is deboned with no part of the spinal column or head attached, clean hides, skull caps and/or teeth or finished taxidermy products. If you want to know how to prepare an animal you would like to have mounted please watch this video to learn more about why we made this change and how to properly cape a deer: If you wish to have a European mount done on your animal you will need to arrange for that as part of your trip planning as only a clean head can be brought back into Minnesota. 

In addition, people should be aware of mandatory chronic wasting disease surveillance in southeast, central and north central Minnesota, and the CWD management zone during 2017.  Sample submission will be mandatory in all seasons in the CWD management zone and during the first two days of the firearm season in the other areas. We’ll provide more detailed information on the location of these sampling stations soon, but be aware you will still need to register your deer online, by phone or in-person but submission of tissue samples is mandatory.

Finally, be aware that hunter safety courses are available.  These fill up quickly, particularly in the metro area so encourage the next generation to take advantage of these opportunities.

Deer management plan

Progress also continues on development of the state’s first-ever deer management plan. In February, more than 500 people combined attended the 13 public input meetings conducted throughout Minnesota. An additional 1,400 comments were submitted through an online questionnaire, email and mail. View the response to this input. The public Deer Management Plan Advisory Committee has continued to meet monthly to provide input and feedback to the DNR as the plan is developed. Meeting agendas and notes are available to others interested in this important work.

— Adam Murkowski, DNR Big Game Program leader

Fall wild turkey, ruffed grouse, woodcock seasons set to open

MADISON - Prospects are good for fall wild turkey, ruffed grouse and woodcock hunting seasons, and hunters should look forward to another exciting year in the field.
The fall turkey season runs from Sept. 16 to Nov. 17 statewide, with an extended fall season in Turkey Management Zones 1-5 continuing through Dec. 31.
"Fall turkey hunters can look forward to good opportunities this year," said Mark Witecha, upland wildlife ecologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "The fall turkey season definitely offers some variety in hunting tactics and strategy compared to the spring season, and you can't beat the backdrop of a Wisconsin autumn."
Overall, Wisconsin's statewide wild turkey population remains strong. After 30 years of sustained population growth and expansion across the state, wild turkeys are now found statewide. Wild turkey numbers appear to be stabilizing at levels suitable to available habitat -- they will likely ebb and flow around those levels in response to weather, food availability and other natural factors.
Turkey hunters are reminded that they are subject to the blaze orange requirement for ground blinds erected on DNR lands during any gun deer season. Ground blinds on DNR lands left unattended during legal hunting hours must display the owner's name and address or DNR customer ID number near the door opening.
New for this season, blinds can be left overnight Sept. 1 to Jan. 31, 2018 on DNR managed properties north of Hwy. 64. Blinds south of Hwy. 64 on DNR managed lands may not be left out overnight, and must be removed entirely from the property at the close of hunting hours each day. Blinds used for waterfowl hunting and blinds constructed entirely of vegetation do not have to be removed daily.
The use of dogs to hunt wild turkey is allowed statewide for the fall seasons.
Ruffed Grouse: In Zone A, the ruffed grouse season opens Sept. 16 and runs through Jan. 31, 2018. In Zone B, the season will open Oct. 14 and close Dec. 8.
Ruffed grouse drumming surveys have been used since 1964 to help monitor ruffed grouse population trends.
"Statewide ruffed grouse drumming activity was up 17 percent this spring compared to last year," said Brian Dhuey, DNR wildlife survey coordinator. "Ruffed grouse populations are known to rise and fall over a nine- to 11-year cycle, and the last peak in Wisconsin's cycle occurred in 2011. Survey results suggest that we have surpasses the low point in the population cycle and population numbers should continue to increase until they hit the next peak in the coming years."
Grouse hunters are reminded to register with the Harvest Information Program (HIP) if they plan to pursue woodcock, mourning doves or other migratory game birds. Registration is free and is available through all license vendors, as well as online.
In 2017, the woodcock season will be open from Sept. 23 to Nov. 6.
Go Wild
Leftover fall turkey permits can be purchased through the Online Licensing Center, license agents, and DNR Service Centers. Hunters with any questions regarding permits can contact the DNR Customer Call Center, open 7 a.m. through 10 p.m., seven days a week, at 1-888-WDNRINFo (1-888-936-7463). For more information regarding Go Wild, visit
SOURCE: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Online comment period begins for deer objectives

MADISON, Wis. - The online public comment period regarding the preliminary recommendations  on county deer population objectives for the next three years and potential changes to Deer Management Unit boundaries has now begun.
The comment period will run through Sept. 22.
Preliminary deer population objective recommendations received from the County Deer Advisory Councils will be to increase, decrease or maintain the size of the local herd over the next three years. Changes to DMU boundaries will influence the area where antlerless tags may be used within the county and season structure options in those areas. Final recommendations will go into effect in 2018 and will guide annual antlerless quota recommendations for the next three years.
Preliminary population objectives and DMU boundary recommendations for each CDAC will be posted online at by searching keyword "CDAC." After reviewing the recommendations, the public can enter opinions and comments into a web-based survey, also on the CDAC Web page.
Once the online public comment period has closed, CDACs will receive feedback from the surveys to consider when developing their final recommendations. Recommendations will be finalized at public meetings in early October.
Public comments are also welcome as the DNR reviews the recommendations in November and can be submitted through email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
For more information, including October meeting dates and locations, visit the CDAC web page, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
SOURCE: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Online tools show hunters where baiting, feeding banned

MADISON, WI - Before taking part in upcoming hunting seasons or placing feed for wildlife, hunters and wildlife watchers should be sure to check which counties currently prohibit wildlife baiting and feeding activities.
State statutes 29.336 (2) (b) and 29.336 (2) (c) have been amended to remove deer baiting and feeding prohibitions for counties in which 36 months have passed since any confirmed positive test for chronic wasting disease or bovine tuberculosis within the county. This amendment also removes deer baiting and feeding prohibitions in adjacent counties that are within a 10-mile radius to counties in which 24 months have passed since any confirmed positive test for chronic wasting disease or bovine tuberculosis.
The following 15 counties previously subject to deer baiting and feeding prohibitions have reverted back to regulated deer baiting and feeding as a result of this proposal's enactment: Barron, Burnett, Calumet, Clark, Dodge, Jackson, Kenosha, Manitowoc, Milwaukee, Polk, Racine, Sheboygan, Washburn, Washington and Waushara.
It is important to note that baiting and feeding restrictions remain in place for 28 CWD affected areas/counties, of which none will be lifted in 2017.
This change affects counties in which an individual is restricted on the placement of bait/feed. The current regulations for placement of bait/feed in counties where this practice is allowed are still in place, including timing, location, quantity and other requirements. Hunters should continue to follow local ordinances that may prohibit baiting and feeding of deer until they are notified of a change locally.
Those interested in baiting/feeding should take time to be familiar with the associated regulations, found at, keywords "baiting and feeding."
These outcomes apply equally to positive samples from free-roaming or captive animals. More information regarding current baiting and feeding rules in response to CWD detections can be found at keyword "CWD."
During the 2017 deer hunting season, the DNR will continue to sample deer within the Southern Farmland Zone and at select locations in the CWD-affected area. To learn more about the 2017 CWD surveillance plan, or for more information on CWD, search keyword "CWD." Hunters are reminded that the surveillance plan identifies where the Wisconsin DNR will be attempting to collect samples from deer however if hunters anywhere in the state are interested in having their animal tested, they should contact their local wildlife biologist for the county they are located.
Individuals may still feed birds and small mammals, provided feeding devices are within 50 yards of a human dwelling and at a sufficient height or design to prevent access by deer.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

It's time to plan 2017 Learn to Hunt programs

MADISON, WI - A number of different hunting seasons get underway throughout September, making now the ideal time to start planning Learn to Hunt events, according to the state's hunting and shooting sports coordinator.
"While hunters are planning their own outings, they can also think about planning Learn to Hunts events," Keith Warnke of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said. "There's still time to get applications in."
An often-overlooked benefit of Learn to Hunt events, and hunting in general, is the food harvested. From tender small game like rabbits and squirrels to flavorful gamebirds and hearty big game like deer, hunting puts lean, naturally raised protein on the table. "Hunters get exercise when they participate," Warnke said. "On top of that, the food just can't be beat."
Deer, waterfowl and spring turkey Learn to Hunts are traditional favorites, Warnke said, adding a very popular, economical choice is the pheasant. Kelly Maguire, Poynette Game Farm director, agrees.
"Remember, if you're hosting a Learn to Hunt pheasant, sponsors can get free pheasants from the DNR game farm for the event," Maguire said.
She said the State Game Farm in Poynette supplies two birds per participant, up to 50 birds per event. The newly renovated facility produces an impressive 75,000 pheasants a year for release on public hunting grounds.
"It's a great deal and helps our partners put on fantastic events," Maguire said. She reminds those planning pheasant hunting events to submit completed, signed Learn to Hunt applications in order to get their pheasants.
For more information on all your Learn to Hunt needs, search the DNR website for keyword "LTH.".

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Bow, crossbow deer hunting seasons open Sept. 16

MADISON, WI - Increased deer observations following another mild winter have hunters and state wildlife officials alike excited for fall hunting seasons - the 2017 archery and crossbow deer seasons run concurrently statewide from Sept. 16 to Jan. 7, 2018.
"I'm hearing a lot of optimism from all corners of the state," said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources deer and elk ecologist Kevin Wallenfang. "Hunters should expect good to excellent deer numbers in most areas within the central and southern farmland zones, and more deer in the forested zones after several years of no antlerless harvest and mild winters. With our most recent mild winter, reports of excellent antler growth and good fawn production are common."
In 2016, archery and crossbow hunters combined for one of the highest buck harvests in history, and Wallenfang expects similar, if not an increase, in the buck harvest this year. Deer hunters in just four predominantly forested counties will see buck-only hunting this year. 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 three 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.
In addition, please note that regulations regarding tree stands and ground blinds used on department managed lands have changed for fall 2017. 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 2017, up to five Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless tags are included with each deer hunting license, depending on the Deer Management Unit (DMU) 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).
All harvested deer must be registered electronically by 5 p.m. the day after the deer is recovered. GameReg is simple, fast and convenient for hunters. The system will prompt hunters to answer a series of questions, beginning with the carcass tag number and date of birth.
Hunters will have three options for registering their deer:
* Online at GameReg.WI.Gov (fastest and easiest option);
by phone at 1-844-426-3734 (1-844-GAME-REG); or
electronically at a participating in-person registration station (keyword "registration stations").
For more information regarding electronic registration, search "GameReg."
To receive email updates regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin, visit and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page titled "subscribe for updates for DNR topics," then follow the prompts and select the "white-tailed deer" distribution list (found within the "hunting" list).
Deer hunters are also encouraged to check out the frequently asked questions page for more information regarding changes for 2017. And, remember to check out the carcass tagging FAQ (search keywords "tag it").
For more general information regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin, search keyword "deer."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR