3 Things to Know Ahead of the Opening of Deer Season in Wisconsin

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By Jessica Lee

November 17, 2022

If you are a Wisconsin deer hunter, you probably know that bow season started in mid-September. However, rifle season is almost upon us. The Wisconsin Department of Resources (DNR) has only made two changes since last year—a reduced amount of antlerless permits in two northern counties. Additionally, no county will offer a “buck only” permit this year, which has not been the case over the last decade. 

Below, we cover more information about the four deer seasons left this year, including dates and information about licenses and harvest authorizations. This might be a refresher if you’re a long-time hunter or recently completed a Wisconsin Hunter Safety Class. However, those new to deer hunting in Wisconsin need to get familiar with the rules to avoid troubles with the DNR. 

Dates for Remaining 2022 WI Deer Hunts

Wisconsin hunters have four more opportunities to snag their buck or doe before the end of the year. Here are the dates and some general information for each hunt:

Gun Deer Hunt, Nov. 19 to Nov. 27

The gun deer hunt is statewide in all areas open for hunting. Under Wisconsin law, all youth hunters must be accompanied by an adult parent or guardian even if they have completed a hunter safety class and hold a certificate. One adult cannot accompany more than two youth hunters. Hunters can only use rifles, shotguns, and certain types of handguns during the 9-day gun hunt. 

Muzzleloader Hunt, Nov. 28 to Dec. 7

Hunters can use muzzleloaders during the gun deer hunt, but they also can continue to hunt until Dec. 7th. The muzzleloader hunt occurs statewide, except for in metro sub-units. All muzzleloaders are legal as long as they have a solid threaded breech plug that ensures they can only be loaded from the muzzle. 

Statewide Antlerless Hunt, Dec. 8 to Dec. 11

Wisconsin’s statewide antlerless deer hunt permits all weapon types and occurs in all areas open for hunting. Hunters can engage in archery and crossbow hunting during these four days too, but they can only hunt antlerless deer. Remember that under Wisconsin law, it’s illegal to remove or break antlers to make it impossible to identify the sex of the deer. These types of deer are illegal if taken during an antlerless hunt. 

Farmland Zone Holiday Hunt, Dec. 24 to Jan. 1

The farmland zone holiday hunt works the same way as the statewide antlerless hunt, except it’s not statewide. Hunters can only hunt antlerless deer and only certain counties participate in the hunt. You can find the map of participating counties here. Like the statewide antlerless hunt, hunters can use rifles, shotguns, certain handguns, and bows. 

Photo courtesy of Laura College via Unsplash

Wisconsin Deer Hunting License Requirements

Purchasing a deer hunting license in Wisconsin is pretty straightforward. People of all ages can hunt with a license, even without taking a hunter education class. This is also true with youth hunters if they have a mentor or a parent with them. You can buy one of three licenses for hunting deer in Wisconsin: a gun deer license to hunt with a firearm, an archery license to hunt deer with a bow and arrow, or a crossbow license to hunt deer with a crossbow and arrow. Your license, or licenses, are only valid with an unfilled harvest authorization. 

Wisconsin Deer Hunt Harvest Authorizations

If you’re somewhat new to hunting in Wisconsin, harvest authorization is the formal DNR term that refers to buck tags or doe tags. The DNR issues harvest authorizations with each hunting license. The number and type of authorizations can vary from year to year and they vary based on where you are hunting in Wisconsin. 

Here are the main types of harvest authorization for 2022 deer hunts in Wisconsin. You should also know that you can request more than one authorization when you purchase your license. They are issued on a first come, first served basis. 

Gun Buck Deer Harvest Authorizations

Although “buck only” tags have been popular historically, they are not offered in 2022. When they are offered they permit a hunter to harvest one buck with any legal weapon type in areas open for hunting. They are valid during all firearm seasons, except when an antlerless-only hunt is taking place. 

Bow Buck Deer Harvest Authorization

The DNR issues these authorizations with archery and crossbow licenses. They permit bow and arrow hunters to kill one buck by bow or crossbow, depending on which license a hunter purchases. They are valid during open archery and crossbow season but do not apply during an antlerless hunt. 

Junior Antlerless Deer Harvest Authorization

The junior harvest authorization permits hunters who are age 17 and younger to take one antlerless deer with a gun or bow, depending on their license. Adult hunters can legally give their “tag,” or authorization to another hunter. However, junior antlerless tags must be filled by the license holder; these tags are non-transferable. 

Farmland (Zone 2) Antlerless Deer Harvest Authorization

Hunters receive one or more of these authorizations with the purchase of their license. The amount they receive depends on the exact deer management unity (DMU) a hunter selects. These authorizations are not only specific to the DMU, but also specify authorization for public or private land. Hunters with a Zone 2 Antlerless authorization can use any weapon as long as they have the corresponding license. 
For complete 2022 Wisconsin deer hunting regulations, check out the Wisconsin Hunting Regulations pamphlet released by the DNR.


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