Wisconsin’s 9-Day Regular Deer Season Runs Nov.22-30
MADISON –Wisconsin’s regular nine-day gun deer season opens Saturday, Nov. 22 this year and runs through Sunday, Nov. 30. The traditional season always opens the Saturday prior to the Thanksgiving holiday.
Even after a pretty tough winter in parts of the state, and a harvest of more than 520,000 deer in the 2007-08 seasons, the deer herd is still a good deal larger than established population goals in much of Wisconsin. Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists estimate that the herd numbers between 1.5 and 1.7 million animals going into the fall 2007-08 seasons, a slight decrease from last year.
Because of this, most of the deer management units across the state, with the exception of some areas in the northeast, are under either herd control or earn-a-buck structures. In deer management units designated as earn-a-buck (EAB), hunters are required to shoot an antlerless deer in order to “earn” a sticker allowing them harvest an antlered deer. In units designated as regular or herd control, hunters do not need to first shoot an antlerless deer in order to shoot a buck. A free antlerless tag will come with each archery and gun license that is valid in herd control, EAB and CWD units. Additional antlerless tags can be purchased anytime after the license is purchased for $2 each.
Gun hunters who wish to harvest an antlerless deer in a “regular” unit (white units on DMU map), must purchase a unit-specific antlerless tag in addition to their license. These antlerless tags are limited in quantity for each unit and cost $12 each for residents and $20 for non-residents. Many regular units still have antlerless tags left, while some have sold out.
Hunters could have prequalified for the buck harvest sticker by having shot an antlerless deer from an EAB or CWD unit last year, or by having registered an antlerless deer in either the early archery season or four day October antlerless deer hunt. Hunters who shot an antlerless deer during a season from one of theses units this year should have received a buck sticker when they registered their antlerless deer.
In units that were not EAB last year, but are in EAB this year, hunter’s should have received a “2008” buck authorization sticker in the mail if they registered antlerless deer from those units last fall. Hunters can check their prequalification status on the DNR Web site.
There are also changes in the deer season framework this fall in the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Zone. These changes reflect a blending of a CWD citizen advisory group recommendations, feedback from eight public hearings the Department of Natural Resources held this spring, and the agency’s recommendations to manage the disease.
These changes include combining the previous Disease Eradication Zone and the Herd Reduction Zone into one zone, called the CWD Management Zone with consistent regulations and one season framework, that is very similar to the season structure for the rest of the state. All of the CWD zone is also under EAB regulations this year.
“With and strong hunter commitment to herd management through hunting, the state is making progress toward population goals,” says Keith Warnke, DNR deer and bear ecologist. “Large antlerless deer harvests will always be needed, however, even with populations near goal, to stay at desired levels.”
Warnke says hunting has had a positive impact on deer herd management in recent years, and hunters deserve credit for that management. Hunters can take advantage of an abundant herd and hunting opportunities to enjoy their pastime, help to secure the future of wildlife conservation by bringing in new hunters and help others by making use of the statewide food pantry donation system to help feed needy families.
All baiting and feeding of deer is banned in 26 Wisconsin counties (pdf) due to the presence of either chronic wasting disease or bovine tuberculosis in either captive or free roaming animals. In the rest of the state, the practices are allowed subject to a number of restrictions.
There is a growing body of scientific evidence that clearly supports ending deer baiting and feeding from a disease management and prevention standpoint. In the past two years, the case for prohibiting baiting and feeding in Wisconsin has been strengthened by additional research into deer disease transmission and the behavioral responses of deer to the repeated placement of even a small volume of food.
The Department of Natural Resources and the state Natural Resources Board strongly encourage hunters and citizens to refrain from baiting and feeding deer under any circumstances.
Precautions for Eating Deer Harvested with Lead Ammunition
Deer harvested with lead bullets have been shown to potentially have tiny lead particles or fragments remaining in the processed meat. These are often too small to be seen and can disperse far from the wound channel. Although lead in venison does not rival lead paint in older homes as a health risk for the public, the risk is not low enough to ignore. Children under 6 years and pregnant women are at the greatest risk from lead exposure.
The amount of lead found in a small percentage of venison samples suggests that long term effects of lead consumption could occur in people who regularly eat venison shot with lead ammunition.
These suggestions can reduce exposure to lead in venison:
- Consider alternative non-lead ammunition such as copper or other high weight-retention bullets, such as bonded bullets.
- Practice marksmanship and hunting skills to get closer, making cleaner, lethal shots away from major muscle areas. Aim for the neck or the head, or the vitals behind the shoulder. Don’t shoot at running deer.
- Avoid consuming internal organs, as they can contain extra lead from heart-lung shots.
- Request your meat processor to not use deer meat with excessive shot damage. If you process your own venison, trim a generous distance away from the wound channel and discard any meat that is bruised, discolored or contains hair, dirt, bone fragments or grass. Do not use deer with excessive shot damage.
Licenses available through deer season
Hunters who have not yet purchased a gun deer hunting license and want it for opening weekend are being urged not to wait until the last minute to make sure there are no problems with their license purchase. Gun deer hunting licenses are $24 for residents and $160 for non-residents and can be purchased at license sales locations or DNR service centers during their regular business hours (check service center link for hours of operation, which vary by service center; service centers are closed Saturdays).
Licenses are also available over the Internet through the Online Licensing Center or by calling toll-free 1-877-WI LICENSE (1-877-945-4236); However, to guarantee delivery by Friday, November 21, hunters who purchase licenses online or by phone before 2 p.m., Wednesday, November 19 will need to pay an expedited FED EX fee ($15) in order to receive it by opening weekend.
As of 2004 hunters have also been able to purchase Wisconsin deer hunting licenses at license vendors and DNR service centers any time during the nine-day deer gun season.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke – (608) 264-6023 or Jason Fleener – (608) 261-7589