By: Bureau of Law Enforcement
Welcome to another special edition of a popular Warden Wire feature -- the Frequently Asked Questions. During the days before -- and during -- the November 17 - 25 gun-deer hunting season in Wisconsin, Warden Wire will carry Frequently Asked Questions dealing specifically with this deer hunt season. Today is the third installment of these special edition FAQs taken by the DNR Call Center. The Call Center is staffed daily, 7 a.m. - 10 p.m., and offers bilingual service in Spanish and Hmong. The number is 1-888-936-7463.
The links to the first two installments of special edition FAQs are shown in the last question -- number 9.
Question 1: May a private landowner charge individuals to hunt on his or her property? If so, any permits necessary?
Answer: Private landowners may charge individuals. There are no permits necessary.
Question 2: Is this also true for owners of lands enrolled in Managed Forest Law (MFL) or the Forest Crop Law (FCL)? Can I lease MFL lands for hunting or recreation?
Answer: No, the leasing of MFL land is prohibited. Any type of agreement in which "consideration" is made to the landowner in the form of cash, goods or services would be a violation of the MFL program. Landowners may choose whether to enroll their lands into MFL and to allow public access for hunting, fishing, hiking, sight-seeing and cross-country skiing. Landowners who close lands to public access are limited to 160 acres. Additional lands that are enrolled must remain open to public hunting, fishing, hiking, sight-seeing and cross-country skiing. The leasing prohibition removes the incentive for landowners to subdivide properties in an effort to close more lands to the public, then turn around and lease those lands, when landowners could have left the lands in the MFL-Open tax status. There is a wealth of information on the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for MFL and FCL.
Question 3: Does it show anywhere in the printed regulations that it is illegal to hunt while under the influence? For example, what if a hunter has a cooler of beer next to him in the stand? I could not find anything in the deer hunting regulations.
Answer: This law is not specific to just intoxicated use of a firearm while hunting. The law applies any time a person possesses a firearm.
Below is the legal language if you are interested. Otherwise, go on to question 4.
941.20 Endangering safety by use of dangerous weapon:
(1) Whoever does any of the following is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor:
(a) Endangers another's safety by the negligent operation or handling of a dangerous weapon; or
(b) Operates or goes armed with a firearm while he or she is under the influence of an intoxicant;
“Under the influence of an intoxicant" means that the actor's ability to operate a vehicle or handle a firearm or airgun is materially impaired because of his or her consumption of an alcohol beverage, of a controlled substance or controlled substance analog under Ch. 961, of any combination of an alcohol beverage, controlled substance and controlled substance analog, or of any other drug or of an alcohol beverage and any other drug.”
Question 4: Can hollow point ammo be used to hunt deer?
Answer: Yes, hollow point ammo can be used to hunt deer. The only prohibited ammunition for hunting deer is non-expanding type bullets. Hollow points are acceptable and common in deer hunting as they allow for rapid expansion and transfer of energy into your target.
Question 5: If you’re just two guys together using your own tags, is that group hunting?
Answer: No, it is not – and that’s according to the law.
If you want to read the law, here it is. Otherwise, go to question 6.
Pursuant to s. 29.324, Wis. Stats – Group Deer Hunting:
"Group deer hunting party" means 2 or more hunters hunting in a group all using firearms, each of whom holds an individual license to hunt deer. Any member of a group deer hunting party may kill a deer for another member of the group deer hunting party if all the following conditions exist:
Question 6: With the passage of the Lesser Weapons Law, which allows a hunter to take deer with a bow and arrow or crossbow while hunting under the gun-deer license, will the state parks check the hunter’s license or the weapon at point of entry? For example, a hunter could show up at Buckhorn State Park with a bow and arrow, but have a gun-deer license. The season structure at Buckhorn says there is hunting during the archery season but not in the gun season. Is the season structure based on the license the hunter has privileges for, or the weapon the hunter intends to use?
Answer: If the season for that DNR property is only an “archery” deer season, and not open to the hunting of deer with firearms, then it is not legal to hunt deer under the authority of a gun-deer license on that property during that archery season -- not even if only using a bow or crossbow. The ability to use a bow or crossbow under a gun-deer license only applies when there is an open season for hunting deer with firearms.
Question 7: What about on lands not owned by the DNR? For example, in the City of Rib Mountain, there is property open to archery hunting only. Local ordinance prohibits the use of a firearm. So, in this case, can the hunter use a bow and arrow under the gun-deer license? Or, is this a local issue and hunter should talk to the city to get the answer?
Answer: Cities cannot establish open and closed gun and archery deer seasons. Such seasons only can be set by the DNR and are found under NR 10 season tables. However, a city may have an ordinance that only allows a person to discharge a bow and arrow or crossbow, and not a firearm, for public safety reasons. The city also may have an ordinance restricting access to lands the city owns for purposes of hunting. So, the hunter must first determine if the open season that applies to lands within the city is the state Archery Season or the state Gun-Deer Season -- or both. The gun season is likely open in the city just like it is in the surrounding area, but the local ordinances may restrict hunters to only being able to use bows or crossbows. In the past, this meant the hunter would have had to be hunting under the authority of an archery license during an open archery season. It is changed, however, now with the gun-deer season also open to use of bows and crossbows under a gun-deer license. This means if the gun-deer season also is open -- and the city allows discharge of bows and/or crossbows within the city -- a hunter could use a bow or crossbow under their gun-deer license. Customers should check with the local unit of government to determine what, if any, local ordinances exist that might restrict the use of firearms, bows or crossbows within their jurisdiction.
Question 8: I have a question about coyote hunting in “shotgun only” areas outside of the gun-deer season. It appears I can hunt with a rifle outside of the gun-deer season. What is the reasoning it is allowed during that timeframe, but not during the gun-deer season? Is it because of the number of hunters out there?
Answer: Outside the gun-deer season, in most areas of the state it is true that a person can use a large caliber rifle to hunt coyote, fox, wolf, etc., in areas that are restricted as shotgun-only areas during the gun-deer season. This is primarily because the concern over using larger rifles in these areas was only during the gun-deer season when there were lots of hunters in the field and this was when most hunting accidents occurred. However, data has not shown rifles to be involved in more accidents than shotguns across the state. A person must, however, check with their local township ordinances, as a few townships, primarily in the Southeast, do prohibit discharging large caliber rifles, even outside the gun-deer season.
Question 9: Where can I find Warden Wire's first and second installments of the Special Edition FAQs about the gun-deer season, as well as future installments?
Answer: Use this link for the first installment from November 10:
Use this link for the second installment published November 14:
For future installments and to subscribe to this free e-mail news service from the conservation wardens, go to the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, and search Warden Wire . Then, search for FAQs - Special Edition. To subscribe to Warden Wire, scroll to the bottom of the Warden Wire page and click on the red mail box next to the word, Subscribe. You may get the service in your e-mail or by text message or both.