- Contact information
- For information on the 2015 deer hunting rules, contact:
- Adam Murkowski
Assistant deer biologist
Bureau of Wildlife Management
Frequently asked questions Deer hunting rules for 2015
Brush up on existing rules and learn what's new for the 2015 deer seasons.
- 2015 Deer hunting rule highlights
- When purchasing a license or bonus antlerless tag, hunters must specify the zone, county and land type for each antlerless tag.
- All deer registration will be completed electronically, but some in-person registration stations will be available to assist hunters.
- The December 4-day antlerless-only hunt will be offered statewide.
- The antlerless-only Holiday Hunt will not be offered.
- Antlerless quotas and bonus antlerless permit levels are now based on County Deer Advisory Council recommendations.
- One Farmland Zone antlerless tag is included with each deer hunting license.
- Junior antlerless deer tags are valid statewide.
- Bonus Buck is no longer available.
- All deer must be registered by 5 p.m. the day after harvest in the unit of kill or an adjacent unit.
- Deer management zones and units
What is the advantage of reforming the Deer Management Units based on county boundaries?
County-based Deer Management Units (DMUs) were created in part to enable greater public input on the herd management process at a more localized level. Management Zones were also created to help enable management between various habitat types, including nine counties that are split between the Northern Forest Zone, the Central Farmland Zone and the Central Forest Zone.
Will the change to county-based Deer Management Units affect where deer can be registered?
Counties are now considered DMUs in most cases. In 2015, with the full launch of electronic deer registration, all deer must be registered in the DMU (county) of harvest or in an adjacent unit before they may be transported out of that unit.
What criteria were used to determined the Management Zone in which a county is located?
The basic outline of the zones has been used for decades as a way of identifying basic deer habitat types and herd productivity within Wisconsin. The predominant habitat type (forest or farmland) within a county determined which zone and season structure it would follow.
- Season structure
Which seasons are offered in 2015?
The following seasons will be available: the archery and crossbow seasons beginning in September, the youth hunt weekend in October, the October gun hunt for hunters with disabilities (on sponsored properties only), the November 9-day gun deer hunt, the December muzzleloader-only hunt and the December 4-day antlerless-only season. Extended seasons in metro subunits will also be available. See the 2015 Deer Hunting Regulations for hunting season dates and hours.
Where is the December 4-day antlerless-only hunt offered in 2015?
In 2015, the December 4-day antlerless-only season would be offered statewide. This is to provide consistency in season frameworks across the state. Since this is an antlerless-only hunt, it will not substantially increase hunting pressure in units with no antlerless harvest quota.
Can hunters shoot bucks with a bow in Northern Forest and Southern Farmland Zone units during the December 4-day antlerless-only season?
No. The December 4-day antlerless-only deer season will be held statewide, making it illegal to hunt bucks during this time.
- Permits and tags
How is the number of land type-specific tags (public or private) issued determined in DMUs?
Starting in 2015, local County Deer Advisory Councils provide recommendations on how many public and private bonus antlerless tags should be issued in each county. Similar to how the department has handled this in the past, the CDACs review harvest history, anticipated hunter success, population estimates and other factors. Then, they make recommendations on antlerless harvest and bonus tag issuance to help achieve three-year county population objectives of increase, decrease or maintain.
Which tags will be issued with the purchase of a deer hunting license?
In 2015, hunters who purchase an archer, crossbow or gun deer hunting license will receive one buck tag valid in any unit statewide, plus one Farmland Zone antlerless tag. This antlerless tag must be designated for use in any one unit in a Farmland Zone. In addition, at the time of purchase, the buyer also chooses the land type (public or private) for which the tag will be valid.
What tags will be issued with the purchase of a Conservation Patron license?
Conservation Patron license holders will receive one Gun Buck Deer Carcass Tag and one Bow Buck Deer Carcass Tag that can be filled with either a conventional bow or crossbow. They will also receive two Farmland Zone antlerless tags valid for use in any Farmland Zone county and land type specified at the time of purchase, but which must be specified for a county unit and either public or private land at the time of license purchase. These antlerless tags are not weapon-specific and can be filled with bow, crossbow, or firearm. Conservation Patrons can specify different county units and land types for each free antlerless tag.
What if a hunter purchases both an archer and crossbow license?
That hunter will only receive one buck tag valid statewide, plus one Farmland Zone antlerless tag. This antlerless tag is valid in the particular Farmland Zone unit (county) and land type (public or private) that the buyer chooses at the time of purchase.
If a hunter first purchases an archer license and then upgrades to include a crossbow license (or vice versa) which back tag will they be required to wear?
Whichever license is purchased first will be the back tag the hunter will be issued and will wear. The hunter will not be issued a second back tag. When hunters buy the upgrade they will be issued a separate license that denotes the upgrade and they must carry that license while hunting.
If I plan to harvest a deer in multiple DMUs or outside the Farmland Zones during the 2015 deer season, will I need to buy separate tags?
At purchase, hunters will receive one buck tag that is valid in any DMU statewide and one antlerless tag valid in a Farmland Zone unit, which must be designated for either public or private land in a specific county. If a hunter would like to harvest an antlerless deer in a Forest Zone unit this year, that hunter must purchase a bonus antlerless tag for that unit, if available. If a hunter wants more than one antlerless tag in a Farmland zone, that hunter may be able to purchase additional tags for $12 (residents) or $20 (non-residents) each at a rate of one tag per hunter per day until sold out.
What tags will junior deer hunters receive?
They will receive one buck tag valid statewide and one Junior Antlerless Deer Tag valid statewide for each license. Youth hunters age 10 – 17 will not need to specify county, zone or land type on their tags.
If a 17 year old buys a junior hunting license, but turns 18 before or during the deer season, can they still use the statewide antlerless deer tags they received with their junior hunting license?
Yes. Because the tags were obtained while the person was under 18 years of age, the tags are valid.
What tags will Class A and C disabled permit holders receive?
They will receive one buck tag valid statewide and one Farmland Zone Antlerless Deer Carcass Tag (specified for a zone, unit and land type). This Farmland Zone antlerless tag will be valid for any unit statewide, but hunters may only use this tag on the land type (public or private) specified on the tag.
What tags will qualified resident U.S. Armed Forces members receive?
A U.S. Armed Forces member who exhibits proof that he/she is a Wisconsin resident or was a resident upon entering active service will receive one buck tag valid statewide and the same Farmland Zone Antlerless Deer Carcass tag as everyone else. However, this Farmland Zone antlerless deer carcass tag is valid statewide, including in buck-only units, but only under the authority of a gun deer license and only during a season open to hunting deer with firearms. The Farmland Zone antlerless carcass tag will still only be valid for the land type (public or private) listed on the tag.
Can class A and C disabled or qualified military personnel on leave tag a doe with their buck tag as before?
No. The law requires that we provide Class A and C disabled hunters and military personnel the opportunity to hunt either sex deer statewide during any firearm deer season under the authority of their gun deer license. Their buck tag is now valid only for bucks.
Will active duty military service members still be offered bonus antlerless tags for units that are sold out?
Yes, we will continue to handle this as we have in the past. Residents who are in active service with the U.S. Armed Forces outside this state and on furlough or leave will still be able to purchase a Bonus Antlerless Deer Tag for any unit and land type (public or private) which has an antlerless quota, even if they are already all sold out.
Are antlerless tags weapon-specific in 2015?
No. All antlerless tags may be filled with any weapon and during any season with the appropriate license.
Is regular hunting or hunting under an agricultural deer damage shooting permit allowed on the Friday prior to the November 9-day gun deer season?
Yes. The prohibition of possessing a loaded or uncased firearm on the Friday prior to the November 9-day gun deer season has been eliminated. This allows hunting with a firearm for any animal with an open season or under damage shooting permits.
Why are hunters charged a $2 fee if they decide to defer the decision on designating the unit and/or land type on their tag to a later date following their initial license purchase?
The $2 fee covers payments and commissions to agents and contractors, plus a transaction fee that is set in state statute. Similar transactions (i.e. deferring turkey permits) can only occur through the DNR, so no additional fees are incurred.
- Antlerless quota and permit setting
How were quota and permit setting carried out in 2015?
County Deer Advisory Councils provided antlerless permit and quota recommendations to the DNR and Natural Resources Board for consideration. These recommendations took into account public feedback from stakeholders and others with an interest in local deer management. The final approval of antlerless quotas and permit levels was granted by the Natural Resources Board in late May.
- Bonus buck regulations
Will bonus buck regulations be in effect in 2015?
Bonus buck has been removed from permanent rule, and hunters will not be able to use 2014 bonus buck stickers or earn bonus buck authorization in 2015.
Can hunters use any bonus buck stickers from previous years in 2015?
No. Since bonus buck is no longer in effect, hunters will not be able to harvest a bonus buck under the authority of the bonus buck authorization sticker.
- Crossbow regulations
Which license is required to hunt with a crossbow?
To hunt with a crossbow during the crossbow deer season, a hunter must purchase a crossbow-specific license. However, if hunters wish to hunt with both a crossbow AND a bow they must purchase the crossbow or bow license and the bow/crossbow upgrade. The first license will be sold at the regular price and the second will be just $3.
What tags will a hunter receive with a crossbow license?
Hunters receive one Bow Buck Deer Carcass Tag valid in any unit statewide and one Farmland Zone Antlerless Deer Carcass Tag specific to the Farmland Zone, county and land type specified at purchase. Hunters may purchase a $3 upgrade which authorizes the use of both crossbow and vertical bow to fill the Bow Buck Carcass Tag and Farmland Zone Antlerless Deer Carcass Tag (specific to the Farmland Zone, county and land type specified at purchase). However, the purchase of an upgrade (or both licenses) does not come with a second set of tags.
If someone wants to hunt with a crossbow, do they need to purchase both an archer license and a crossbow license?
No. To hunt with a crossbow during the crossbow deer season, a hunter must purchase a crossbow-specific license. However, if a hunter wishes to hunt with both a bow AND a crossbow they must purchase both an archer and a crossbow license. The first license will be sold at the regular price and the second will be just $3.
If someone wants to hunt with a bow or crossbow during a firearm (including muzzleloader) season, do they need to purchase an archer or crossbow license?
No. Anyone who possesses a regular (gun) deer license can use any legal firearm, bow or crossbow to hunt deer with that license during any season open to hunting deer with a firearm.
If someone purchases both an archer and a crossbow license, what tags will they receive?
With the purchase of both licenses, hunters will receive one Bow Buck Deer Carcass Tag valid in any unit statewide and one Farmland Zone Antlerless Deer Carcass Tag specific to the Farmland Zone, county and land type specified at purchase. These tags may be filled using either weapon. The purchase of both archer and crossbow licenses only authorizes the use of both weapons and hunters will not receive a second set of tags.
Can junior deer hunters hunt with a crossbow?
Yes, but they must purchase a crossbow-specific junior deer hunting license to use a crossbow during the crossbow deer seasons. Youth hunters do not need a crossbow license to hunt with a crossbow during a firearm deer season if the youth has a gun deer license, which also allows hunting with a bow or crossbow during a firearm deer season under the lesser-weapons rule.
Do Conservation Patron licenses allow crossbow use?
Yes. A crossbow license is included with the Conservation Patron license.
Can disabled hunters or hunters over the age of 65 hunt with a crossbow using a regular archer license?
No, all hunters wishing to hunt with a crossbow, including the disabled and those over 65 years of age, must purchase a crossbow-specific license. Disabled hunting permits no longer authorize crossbow use. The law that formerly allowed crossbow use in these cases was repealed by the legislature in 2014.
Are there specific transportation requirements relative to crossbows?
Crossbows that are not cocked do not need to be cased during transportation, whether it is in or on a vehicle, ATV, UTV, snowmobile or other motorized vehicle. A cocked crossbow can be placed in or on any of these vehicles and transported only if it is first unloaded (arrow/bolt removed) and the cocked crossbow is encased in a carrying case.
- Bonus antlerless tags
Why do bonus antlerless tags cost more than they have in the past?
One of the recommendations in the Deer Trustee Report was to sell antlerless permits at a consistent amount. Therefore, charging $12 per tag added value to the resource. The Deer Trustee Report authors thought free tags reduced the value of the experience of harvesting antlerless deer.
When will bonus antlerless permits go on sale?
Where available, antlerless tags will be sold starting at 10 a.m. on August 17 in the Northern Forest and Central Forest Zones, August 18 in the Central Farmland Zone and August 19 in the Southern Farmland Zone. Sales for all remaining bonus antlerless tags for all zones and units will begin at 10 a.m. on August 20. Tags can be purchased at a rate of one tag per day per customer until the unit is sold out or the hunting season ends. At purchase, the hunter will specify the zone, unit and land type (public or private) in which they want their tag to be valid.
Can bonus antlerless tags still be purchased at one tag per day per customer?
Yes, where available antlerless tags were sold beginning on August 17 in the Northern Forest and Central Forest Zones, August 18 in the Central Farmland Zone and August 19 in the Southern Farmland Zone. Sales for all remaining bonus antlerless tags for all zones and units began on August 20. Remaining tags can be purchased at a rate of one tag per day per customer until the unit is sold out or the hunting season ends. At purchase, the hunter will specify the zone, unit and land-type (public or private) that they want their tag to be valid.
Are additional bonus antlerless tags weapon-specific?
No. In 2015, bonus antlerless tags are NOT weapon-specific. As was the case in 2014, they are zone, county and land type (public or private property) specific.
As in the past, can qualified farmers request one free bonus antlerless tag for each bonus antlerless tag they purchase?
Yes, but this request must occur at the time of purchase of the initial bonus antlerless tag and it must be for the same Deer Management Unit and land-type as their first tag.
When bonus antlerless deer tags go on sale in August, do the prices differ between Management Zones?
No. Where available, bonus antlerless tags are the same price, regardless of the zone and unit - $12/tag for residents and $20/tag for non-residents.
- Public and private lands
What is the penalty for someone who harvests a deer in the correct zone and unit but does not have the correct land-type specified on their tag?
This has not changed with the new rules. The penalty would be $222.90 plus the cost of a bonus antlerless deer tag they should have purchased for that land-type ($12 or $20).
Can hunters "group hunt" using a public lands antlerless tag? For example, if someone in a group of three has a public land antlerless tag for the correct area, will everyone else be able to participate under group hunting rules?
Yes. If the antlerless tag is valid for the area the group is hunting (correct zone, unit and land-type) and if all group members comply with all group deer hunting requirements, anyone in the group may participate in group hunting and fill an open antlerless tag. All members of the group must be using firearms and each must hold a regular gun deer license in addition to contact and tagging requirements. A person hunting with a bow or crossbow cannot shoot a deer for someone else to tag, or tag a deer shot by another.
Will the Farmland Zone antlerless tags included with the purchase of a deer license need to be specified for use on public or private land?>
Yes. Starting in 2015, hunters will be required to specify zone, unit and land type (public or private) for all antlerless tags, including those that are issued with the purchase of a deer hunting license.
Do bonus antlerless tags require the purchaser to indicate public or private land?
Yes. As in 2014, hunters need to specify zone, county and land type on bonus antlerless tags.
How do the antlerless tags that come with each deer hunting license look different from the bonus antlerless tags which are purchased and designated as public or private?
It will strictly be through the wording directly on the tag, so the tag will need to be read as always. The title at the top of the tag, as well as a description of where it is valid, will note the difference. The free antlerless deer tags are titled "Farmland Zone Antlerless Deer Carcass Tag." A bonus tag will say "Bonus Antlerless Deer Carcass Tag" at the top and will also include the zone, unit and land-type describing where the tag is valid.
If a person buys a private lands antlerless tag, is that person restricted to only shoot a deer that is actually on private land or is he/she able to shoot a deer that is on public land as long as the shot originates on private land?
If a hunter has a private lands tag, both the hunter and the deer must be located on private property and vice versa. A hunter with a private lands tag cannot shoot a deer standing on public lands even if he/she is standing on private land.
If a person plans to hunt on private land AND public land, are they required to have two antlerless tags, one for private and one for public lands?
In 2015, hunters must specify land type on all antlerless tags, including the Farmland Zone antlerless tags included with a license and bonus antlerless tags that can be purchased separately. If a hunter wants to hunt both public and private land within a given unit for antlerless deer, this could be accomplished by selecting one land type (public or private) for the free Farmland Zone antlerless tag that comes with a deer license and selecting the other type (public or private) for a bonus antlerless tag (if bonus tags of that land type are available in that unit). Buck tags are valid statewide in any zone and unit, including on both public and private lands.
If a hunter possesses a private lands bonus antlerless tag, can that customer access any private lands within the unit?
No. Trespassing laws exist and hunters still need landowner permission prior to hunting on private land. There are lands enrolled under open Managed Forest Law, Forest Crop Law and Voluntary Public Access programs that allow public hunting access, but these lands are considered public lands for purposes of where antlerless deer tags are valid. Hunters must possess a public lands antlerless tag to harvest antlerless deer on these open lands.
If a hunter purchases a bonus antlerless tag for hunting public lands, can that person switch it to a private lands tag after the purchase?
Yes, as long as there are antlerless tags available for the desired zone, county, and land type. That hunter would also have to pay a $2 administrative fee.
Are there more antlerless tags available for private land than public land?
This varies throughout the state and is based on County Deer Advisory Council recommendations for antlerless harvest and the distribution of private and public land throughout each unit.
If a hunter with a valid private lands tag shoots a deer on private land and the deer runs onto public land but does not die, may the hunter shoot that deer when found and if so, what type of tag is required, public or private lands?
If the deer is still alive when the hunter finds it, and if the hunter (or a member of the hunting party, if applicable) does not have a valid antlerless tag, the hunter should contact the local warden for advice on how to proceed. It is not legal to hunt and/or shoot a deer in a unit or on a land-type for which one does not have a valid tag, even if they first wounded that same deer in the unit or on the land type their antlerless tag was valid. To allow this would be to allow anyone to hunt in the wrong area and simply claim that he/she wounded the deer earlier in the area his/her tag was actually valid. If the deer is already dead when the hunter finds it in an adjacent unit or property type, it would be legal and the hunter must immediately validate and tag the deer with the tag that was valid for the area where the deer was shot. This is no different than what could have happened in the past when someone was hunting near the boundary between two Deer Management Units.
How do the free Farmland Zone antlerless tags look different from the bonus antlerless tags which are purchased separately?
It will strictly be through the wording directly on the tag, so the tag will need to be read as always. The title at the top of the tag, as well as a description of where it is valid, will note the difference. The free tags are titled "Farmland Zone Antlerless Tag" whereas a bonus tag will say “Bonus Antlerless Deer Carcass Tag" at the top. In 2015 both tags will include the zone, unit and land type describing where the tag is valid.
If hunting on private land that is open to public hunting because of an agricultural damage deer shooting permit, which tag is needed, public or private?
Lands for which deer damage permits have been issued are still treated as private lands, and would require a private lands antlerless tag. However, if they are also enrolled as open to public hunting under Managed Forest Law or Forest Crop Law, they would require a public lands tag. A damage permit might require the land to be open for public deer hunting, but it is neither a lease agreement like lands enrolled in Voluntary Public Access nor a contract like those for open Managed Forest Law and Forest Crop Law lands. All hunters need the appropriate public or private lands antlerless tag for the property type they are hunting.
For people enrolled in open Managed Forest Law or Forest Crop Law programs, will they need a public or private lands antlerless tag to hunt on their own land?
If all or part of the property is enrolled in Managed Forest Law, Forest Crop Law or Voluntary Public Access and open to public hunting, the landowner will need a public lands antlerless tag to hunt on land enrolled in one of these programs. If the property is enrolled in one of these programs but is closed to public hunting, or if part of the property is not enrolled in one of these programs, the landowner will need a private land antlerless tag to hunt on that part of the property.
What are some resources for finding land open to public hunting?
Hunters can consult several resources to help determine where to hunt, including the Public Access Lands Atlas, the listing of Voluntary Public Access lands and the Managed Forest Law lands map.
- Registration and transportation of deer
How long will a hunter have after harvesting a deer before that deer needs to be registered?
All deer must be registered by 5 p.m. the day after the animal is recovered and the carcass tag is validated.
Does this registration deadline apply to all deer harvested during the 2015 deer seasons?
Yes, any deer harvested in any 2015 deer season must be registered by 5 p.m. the day after it was harvested.
With the implementation of electronic registration, will the registration requirements for harvested deer change?
With the full implementation of electronic registration in 2015, all deer harvested during all deer hunting seasons must be registered before being transported from the unit of harvest or an adjacent unit. In-person registration stations may still be open to provide electronic registration services; however, hunters are not required to register their harvest in person. Hunters can find additional information on electronic registration on the DNR website.
What is the requirement for transporting registered deer?
A person may not possess another hunter’s deer while afield, even if the deer is tagged and registered, without the tag holder being present. However, anyone can possess and transport another person’s registered deer on a public highway for purposes of transportation to, and possession at, a dwelling or a business without the tag holder being present. A dwelling includes both permanent and temporary residences, and would include hunting cabins and camp sites. This allows a person to leave their registered deer at a hunting camp, meat processor or someone else’s residence when they are not there.
Does that mean it's okay if I leave my tagged deer hanging in my hunting camp and go home?
Yes, a cabin or a campsite is considered a dwelling for the purpose of this rule and as long as it is your dwelling (camp or residence) you can leave or store your deer there. The deer would not be considered possessed by another when you leave your deer at your own dwelling. This is true whether the deer is registered or not but don’t forget to register your deer by the required 5 p.m. deadline.
If someone is using an ATV/UTV either on their land or they are disabled, are they allowed to transport anyone else's deer of the ATV/UTV?
The tagger must continue to accompany the deer when it is being transported (moved), even after the deer has been registered, except when being transported on a public roadway. They do not need to be in or on the same vehicle and could be following in another vehicle, ATV or UTV, as long as they are traveling together.
- Chronic wasting disease management
Is there a separate map showing the CWD-affected areas?
Yes, a map identifying the counties designated as CWD affected-areas (recall that there is no longer a CWD Management Zone) can currently be found on the DNR’s CWD web page. These are the same counties where baiting and feeding deer is currently prohibited.
In the past the department has given someone a replacement buck tag if they shot a CWD-positive buck. Will they now do the same if they shoot a CWD-positive doe?
Yes, a replacement tag will be issued for all harvested deer that test positive for CWD, regardless of sex. Please see the 2015 Deer Hunting Regulations for further details.
Are we charging a fee for CWD tags?
CWD, Regular and Herd Control tags no longer exist. All that remains are Farmland Zone Antlerless Deer Carcass Tags issued with each deer hunting license purchased and additional bonus antlerless deer tags which may be purchased starting on August 18 in the Northern Forest and Central Forest Zones, August 19 in the Central Farmland Zone and August 20 in the Southern Farmland Zone. Sales for all remaining bonus antlerless tags for all zones and units will be sold starting at 10 a.m. on August 21. All purchased bonus antlerless tags, regardless of the unit for which they are valid, cost $12 for residents and $20 for non-residents.
Do you foresee continued testing for CWD considering the growing area in which it is found?
Yes, the department intends to continue testing for CWD. The major focus will likely continue to be in southern counties, but the department will also continue to do weighted surveillance in counties where CWD has not been detected. Hunter service testing will continue to be an option for adult deer and hunters/landowners are encouraged to report sick deer to DNR staff. Contact information for reporting can be found on the sick deer web page on the DNR’s website.
How will CWD testing be handled going forward? Will hunters still be able to bring their deer to a walk-in testing location for free CWD testing?
The department will continue CWD monitoring efforts as before. With full implementation of electronic registration, some sampling stations may be maintained throughout the state specifically for the purposes of collecting CWD samples and other biological data to assess deer herd health. The department will continue to offer free testing for CWD on a voluntary basis in 2015. Hunters can search for a nearby CWD sampling station on the DNR website.
Are there any restrictions about crossing state lines or transporting a deer harvested in a CWD affected county out of a CWD-affected county?
Yes, restrictions are in place to prevent the spread of CWD from affected areas to disease-free areas. The head and spinal column cannot be moved any farther than an adjacent county outside a CWD-affected area unless the carcass is taken to a licensed meat processor or licensed taxidermist within 72 hours. Anyone wanting to transport a deer from a CWD-affected area out-of-state should contact the state the deer will be transported to as to determine what restrictions exist regarding the transport of deer in the other state.
- Electronic registration
Will electronic registration be available to all hunters in 2015?
Yes. Starting in 2015, all deer registration will be electronic, and hunters will be able to register their harvests by phone, mobile device or computer with Internet access.