FAQs: Special Edition (#2) - Fall Hunt (rifles sighting-in, velvet antlers)
Published: October 8, 2013 in Outdoor Recreation
By: Bureau of Law Enforcement
October 8, 2013
Welcome to the return of a Warden Wire feature launched during last year's gun-deer season -- the special edition series of Frequently Asked Questions dealing specifically with hunting. The FAQs: Special Edition - Fall Hunt will be a periodic feature. Today is the second installment of these special edition FAQs taken by the DNR Call Center and the Department of Natural Resources' conservation wardens. The Call Center is staffed daily, 7 a.m. - 10 p.m., and offers bilingual service in Spanish and Hmong. The Call Center staff is happy to help you with any and all of your questions. The number is 1-888-936-7463.
Question 1: Are hunters allowed to sight-in their rifles on DNR-owned lands open to public hunting?
Answer: Hunters may sight-in their firearms on many DNR-owned lands open to public hunting. However, sighting-in firearms is not allowed on state park and trail properties or on DNR lands in 18 counties, unless done at an established firearm shooting range. Page 40 of the 2013 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations lists the counties where it is prohibited to possess a loaded uncased firearm for purposes other than hunting or dog training on all DNR-owned land. This information is also provided below:
“It is illegal to possess any loaded or uncased firearm or air gun while within the exterior boundary of state DNR-owned lands posted with department signs in Dane, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Jefferson, Juneau, Kenosha, La Crosse, Manitowoc, Milwaukee, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Racine, Sauk, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha, and Winnebago counties or on state forest lands in the Kettle Moraine or Point Beach State Forests, or State Recreation Areas, except as follows:
- while engaged in hunting in accordance with the open seasons listed on pages 7-9 and 11;
- while shooting at an established target range (this is the only target shooting permitted on these state lands); and,
- while training or trialing dogs under department license within designated areas.”
The department encourages hunters to sight-in their rifles at a shooting range for environmental and safety reasons. Here is a link to the DNR shooting range website:
Also, the Dane County Sheriff’s Office and Wisconsin DNR are sponsoring hunter sight-in opportunities at the Dane County Law Enforcement Training Center. Read more:
Question 2: I am interested in becoming a mentor? Does the graduation of hunter safety for the first year small game privilege qualify as the hunting license requirement to be a mentor?
Answer: A hunter safety certificate issued after Jan. 1, 2013 serves as a small game license and is valid until March 31, 2014 for any resident who has taken the course for the first time, and would satisfy the requirement for a mentor to possess a current year Wisconsin hunting license. The mentor should be sure to carry the hunter safety certificate while acting as a mentor and shall display the certificate to a warden upon request.
Question 3: Am I allowed to harvest a deer with velvet antlers and if so, can I keep the antlers?
Answer: Yes, you may harvest a deer with antlers in velvet during the open season if you have a valid tag for that type of deer (buck vs. antlerless). However, in order to keep the antlers you must contact a warden within 7 days of tagging the deer and request written authorization allowing you to keep the antlers. You may call the Customer Service line at 1-888-936-7463 to get the name and phone number for your local warden. This information can be found on page 30 of the deer regulations. If you do not want to keep the velvet antlers, you can dispose of them within 7days in a proper manner along with the other unwanted parts of the carcass without needing to contact a warden.
Question 4: Can I use a holographic gun sight when deer hunting in Wisconsin?
Answer: Generally speaking, many holographic weapon sights will not be illegal, as they do not cast rays of light. Basically, these function with an internal laser product displaying on a piece of glass, akin to a projector on a projector screen. That said, there are a multitude of holographic sights that feature infrared lighting, combination laser sights, range-finding, etc. It really comes down to a product by product analysis and knowing the Shining Animals law, Wis. Stat. 29.314. It is the ability of the device to cast light which creates the violation. It is important to keep in mind that a light that casts rays where use at any time (even during daylight) is prohibited for deer and other wild animals.
If you missed the first round of Special Edition FAQs, here is that Warden Wire link:
If you have information regarding natural resource violations, please call: VIOLATION HOTLINE: 1-800-TIP-WDNR or 1-800-847-9367. The hotline is in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Trained staff relay reported information to conservation wardens. Anyone who calls the Violation Hotline or provides information can remain anonymous.