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Sept. 15 marks opening of archery and crossbow deer hunting seasons

Published by Central Office September 11, 2018

Contact(s): Kevin Wallenfang, DNR deer and elk ecologist, 608-261-7589

MADISON - Excitement levels are high as hunters prepare for fall deer hunting seasons in Wisconsin.

Hunters will have their first opportunity to enjoy the outdoors during the 2018 archery and crossbow deer seasons, which run concurrently statewide from Sept. 15 to Jan. 6, 2019. The archery and crossbow season is extended to January 31, 2019 in metro sub-units and some counties offering the antlerless-only holiday hunt.

Archery and Crossbow Seasons Preview - Facebook Live September 2018

"Deer numbers continue to look good across the state," said Kevin Wallenfang, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources deer and elk ecologist. "The central and southern farmland zones are expected to have excellent deer numbers in most areas. Portions of the forested zones experienced their first moderate winter after a string of mild winters. Although there was a heavy late winter snow storm in much of the north, a lush spring green up and reports of good fawn production are showing the population is stable and increasing in many areas. All reports indicate a fun and exciting upcoming season."

In 2017, archery and crossbow hunters combined for one of the highest buck harvests in history. - Photo credit: DNR
In 2017, archery and crossbow hunters combined for one of the highest buck harvests in history.Photo credit: Herbert Lange

In 2017, archery and crossbow hunters combined for one of the highest buck harvests in history. Deer hunters in Iron County will be the only county to see buck-only hunting this year. Throughout the remainder of the state, antlerless hunting opportunities are available using Farmland (Zone 2) and bonus antlerless deer harvest authorizations. Visit the DNR website,, and search keyword "DMU" to access an interactive map to find more information on county-specific seasons.

Archery and crossbow 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 harvest authorization using crossbow or archery equipment during open firearm seasons.

Hunting with a crossbow has provided an additional opportunity for many hunters throughout Wisconsin, and accounts for a higher 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 buck harvest authorization and antlerless harvest authorization(s) issued with their first license of choice.

Treestand safety is also a key part of the archery season - hunters should always wear a safety harness, use 3 points of contact when going into or out of the stand and use a haul line to bring your unloaded crossbow and bow into the stand. For more information regarding treestand safety, search keyword "treestand."

Changes for 2018

Please note that there have been changes to several Deer Management Zone (DMZ) and metro sub-unit boundaries this year. Hunters are reminded to check the management zone before purchasing bonus antlerless deer harvest authorizations.

In addition, the rules for transporting deer carcasses harvested in Chronic Wasting Disease affected counties will change effective Oct. 1, 2018. Search keyword "CWD" on the DNR web page for the latest information on carcass transportation regulations, including a FAQ document [PDF]. Hunters are encouraged to explore the many opportunities available to submit a sample for CWD testing.

Bonus Authorizations Still Available

Bonus antlerless harvest authorizations remain available in many counties. Bonus antlerless harvest authorizations may be filled with any weapon type during the appropriate season, but must be filled in the zone, county and land type (public or private) designated on each harvest authorization. Bonus antlerless harvest authorizations 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 under age 12.

In 2018, additional Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless harvest authorizations may be included with each deer hunting license, depending on the county of choice. Hunters who have not yet purchased a license for hunting deer will be prompted to select the county and land-type for the Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless harvest authorizations at the point of sale. Licenses may be purchased online at GoWild.WI.Gov or at any of the more than 1,000 Go Wild license sales locations.

Hunters who purchased their deer hunting licenses prior to June 1 may now select their Farmland (Zone 2) harvest authorizations. Hunters who have yet to determine a hunting location, may defer the Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless harvest authorization selection. When ready, hunters may:


All harvested deer must be registered electronically by 5 p.m. the day after the deer is recovered. GameReg is simple, fast and convenient for hunters. As conservationists, hunters understand the importance of harvest registration and what it means to deer management in Wisconsin. The system will prompt hunters to answer a series of questions, beginning with the unique harvest authorization number and date of birth.

Hunters have three options to register their deer:

For more information regarding electronic registration, search keyword "GameReg."

Wild Wisconsin

Following a successful first season, Wild Wisconsin will be back for season two with tons of helpful content for hunters. The series will launch in early September, just in time for the archery opener.

Wild Wisconsin Season 2 - Learn How You Can Join the Hunt

In the meantime, be sure to check out the Wild Wisconsin: Off the Record podcast - topics covered include public land hunting tips, a deer season forecast, and much more. Search keywords "Wild Wisconsin" for more information - episodes are available on iTunes, Stitcher and YouTube.

To receive email updates regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin, visit and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page titled "subscribe for updates for DNR topics," then follow the prompts and select the "white-tailed deer" distribution list (found within the "hunting" list).

Last Revised: Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Contact information

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