2008 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Season Framework Set

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MADISON – Deer hunters in Wisconsin will have a 2008 season structure that includes a four-day October antlerless deer only gun hunt in most “herd control” and all “earn-a-buck” deer management units, under a framework approved by the state Natural Resources Board at its meeting in Madison on April 23. The framework is for deer management units outside of the southern Wisconsin Chronic Wasting Disease management zones.

The season structure also includes an Oct. 11-12 youth hunt and a Dec. 11-14 antlerless only firearm hunt. Details of the adopted rule (pdf) are available on the Natural Resources Board pages of the DNR Web site.

“Hunters had, by most measures, a very good 2007 season,” said Keith Warnke, big game biologist for the Department of Natural Resources. “The deer population remains at record levels this spring, despite the severe winter in northeastern Wisconsin. This hunting season, we are in position to make measurable progress in moving the deer population downward, closer to population goals.

“Getting the statewide deer population down to established goals will take time, it won’t be accomplished in one season,” the biologist told board members, “but we are making progress. Once we reach goals in the units, we’ll need to keep a close watch on them to keep them at or near goal.”

Oct. 16-19 antlerless deer hunt

The October four-day antlerless deer gun hunt will be Oct. 16-19 in most Herd Control and all EAB deer management units. There are 56 units designated as herd control units (five of which are state parks), 35 designated as earn-a-buck units (six of which are state parks), and 22 regular units (one state park). Units in the Central Forest Deer Management Region are exempted from antlerless gun hunt. The 2008 Deer Management Unit map indicating which deer management units are regular, herd control, earn-a-buck or CWD management, is available on the DNR Web site.

A two-year trial moratorium on the October antlerless gun hunt expired at the end of the 2007 season.

“In 2005, the department, with the support of all major hunting groups and legislative approval, implemented the trial moratorium at the request of stakeholders. Hunting groups felt that hunters could harvest enough antlerless deer to bring deer herd numbers down to established population goals during the traditional nine-day gun season, the muzzleloader season and a four-day December antlerless only gun hunt,” Warnke noted.

Stakeholders set a performance measure for the trial. That measure was a harvest ratio of antlerless to antlered deer of 2 to 1 or greater in herd control units in each of state’s five deer management regions. The minimum 2 to 1 ratio was not met in four of five deer management regions, meaning October gun hunting will return in all but the Central Forest Deer Management Region where hunters reached a 1.95 to 1 mark.

“The department feels this result was sufficiently close to the benchmark to not recommend October gun hunting in the Central Forest Region at this time,” he said.

Earn-a-Buck and prequalification

EAB regulations will be in effect in 35 deer management units outside of the CWD management zones, which are also EAB in 2008. EAB requires a hunter to first shoot an antlerless deer before shooting a buck.

Prequalification was introduced in 2006 and has proven popular with hunters. Many hunters voiced concern over having to pass up a buck on opening day because they hadn’t shot an antlerless deer first. Prequalification allows a hunter to harvest an antlerless deer in any of the state’s EAB or CWD units and receive a buck sticker at a registration station that may be used in the current year or in the coming year in any EAB unit anywhere in the state.

2008 Season dates

  • Archery season Sept. 13-Nov. 20 and Dec. 1-Jan. 4, 2009:
  • Youth hunt Oct. 11-12:
  • Early antlerless deer only gun hunt in Herd Control and Earn-a-buck deer management units, including CWD units (units in the Central Forest Deer Management Region do not have the Oct 16-19 antlerless gun hunt) Oct. 16-19:
  • Traditional nine-day fire arm season Nov. 22-30:
  • Muzzleloader firearm only Dec. 1-10:
  • December antlerless deer only gun hunt in all units (state park units may offer this hunt. Check regulations for state park units) Dec. 11-14.

The full regulations pamphlet, 2008 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations, should be available online in late spring or early summer and in hard copy in early summer, according to wildlife officials.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke – (608) 264-6023