MADISON - 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.