Contact(s): Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist, 608-206-1107
MADISON - The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board approved the 2018 antlerless deer quotas, harvest authorization levels and deer hunting season framework at its May 23 meeting in Madison.
The 2018 deer season framework represents the efforts of the County Deer Advisory Councils to move the deer herd in each county toward a three-year population objective of increasing, maintaining or decreasing the herd. This is the councils' fourth year developing deer management recommendations that consider both scientific herd metrics and public feedback. This year, the public submitted over 7,000 comment forms online during the April 2-12 public comment period in addition to input provided directly at council meetings.
"Department staff would like to thank the CDACs for their continued involvement and commitment to playing an important role in deer management--that said, the main influencer on quota levels, particularly in the north, were late April storms," said Kevin Wallenfang, Department of Natural Resources deer and elk ecologist. "We've seen an increase in population estimates and harvest figures for the past few years, which we expected to continue this year; however, all of the northern counties reduced antlerless quotas to take into account the impacts of the late winter."
Wallenfang says that in the farmland regions of the state, councils continue to use a variety of tagging and season options to address higher deer number. Hunters will again have the opportunity to harvest multiple deer and enjoy extended hunting opportunities.
Iron County is the only deer management unit that will be restricted to buck harvest only in 2018. The antlerless quota for the rest of Wisconsin will be 233,690 antlerless deer (compared to 276,515 in 2017).
A total of 44,000 public-access land bonus antlerless deer harvest authorizations (formerly known as deer tags) will be offered for public-access lands (compared to 31,945 in 2017), while 181,200 will be offered for private lands (compared to 168,210 in 2017). Bonus antlerless harvest authorization sales will occur as follows (sales begin each day at 10 a.m.):
In addition, Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless harvest authorizations are available through gowild.wi.gov for both public and private land with the purchase of every deer hunting license. The number of authorizations offered will depend on the county deer management unit, which must be selected at the time of issuance.
A Holiday Hunt will be held within 19 counties, offering an additional antlerless-only opportunity for firearm hunters from Dec. 24, 2018 to Jan. 1, 2019. As a reminder, archery and crossbow hunters in these counties are also restricted to antlerless harvest during the time of this hunt.
New in 2018, 12 counties holding a Holiday Hunt have extended the archery and crossbow season to Jan. 31, 2019. The extended archery and crossbow season will be open to both buck and antlerless deer harvest.
To help hunters prepare for the 2018 deer season, multiple resources will be posted on the department's deer hunting web page. Hunters are encouraged to check this page frequently leading up to the season. The following documents [all PDF] are now available at dnr.wi.gov, keyword "deer":
To receive email updates and other information regarding deer hunting and season structure in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and select the email icon near the bottom of the page for "subscribe for updates for DNR topics." Follow the prompts and select "white-tailed deer" within the "hunting" list.