NEWS ARCHIVE:     Age: 2,392 days

ARCHIVED Weekly News Published November 8, 2016

All Previous Archived Issues


2016 nine-day gun deer season opens Saturday, Nov. 19

Contact(s): Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist, 608-261-7589

MADISON - Wisconsin's nine-day gun deer season opens Saturday, November 19, and state wildlife officials are enthusiastic about the prospects for 2016.

Video Credit: DNR

"As expected, the early archery and crossbow harvests are ahead of last year harvest-wise," said Kevin Wallenfang, big game ecologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "We are hearing many hunters report increased deer numbers in many areas of Wisconsin - with good hunting conditions throughout the season, I would expect that many hunters will see a few more deer than recent years and experience a good gun deer hunt."

Wallenfang also noted that hunters need to become familiar with a few new rules that go into effect this year ranging from tagging requirements and baiting restrictions to new buck-only units.

This year marks the second year of electronic deer registration through GameReg. Many hunters who used it in 2015 enjoyed the added convenience. Hunters who did not harvest a deer in 2015 or are new to hunting are encouraged to use a number of resources available to learn more about GameReg. A helpful GameReg tutorial is available online - this video can be viewed in the field or at home, and provides a step by step look at what to expect in 2016.

Wisconsin's four Deer Management Zones and county-based Deer Management Units have not changed in 2016. DMUs follow county boundaries in most cases, and nine DMUs are split by zone boundaries. DMU and land type-specific antlerless permits are intended to help manage deer populations more closely on each land type with the hope of enhancing future hunting experiences on public land.

With each deer hunting license (archery/crossbow and gun), hunters will receive one Buck Deer Carcass Tag valid statewide In addition, each license includes one or more Farmland (Zone 2) Antlerless Deer Carcass Tag that must be designated for use in a specific zone, DMU and land type (public access or private) at the time of issuance.

Farmland (Zone 2) tags may not be used in the Northern Forest or Central Forest zones, but bonus antlerless tags may be available for specific DMUs within these zones.

All Bonus Antlerless Deer Permits are zone, DMU and land-type specific. Bonus permits cost $12 for residents, $20 for nonresidents and $5 for youth (ages 10 and 11).

In 2016, 10 county DMUs, in whole or in part, are designated as buck-only units. All buck-only units are restricted to the Northern and Central Forest zones. Only the Buck Deer Carcass Tag issued with each deer license is valid in these DMUs, with some exceptions for youth, Class A and C disabled and military hunters.

County Deer Advisory Councils play key role in management process

County Deer Advisory Councils play a key role in deer management through the development of recommendations based on annual harvest data and management issues specific to each county. These recommendations help the department determine annual antlerless quotas, antlerless tag levels and season options.

Department staff would like to thank all CDAC members for their continued commitment to playing an active role in deer herd management in Wisconsin.

Looking for all of this year's key changes in one place?

There are a few notable changes for this year's deer hunting season, and hunters can find them in a helpful "Deer Hunt 2016 - What do you need to know?" document, found at, keyword "deer."

If you leave it, tag it! Know your tagging rules before you head into the woods
Be sure to use the carcass tag number when registering a deer this fall.
Be sure to use the carcass tag number when registering a deer this fall.

Hunters are required to carry the appropriate carcass tag when hunting species requiring a tag: deer, bear, turkey and geese. The carcass tagging FAQ (search "tag it"), will help hunters make sure they are ready for another year in the field, while the frequently asked questions offers additional information regarding changes for 2016.

Please note that when registering a harvested deer, the registration process will ask for the carcass tag number on the tag (not the customer ID). Please contact the DNR Call Center with any questions at 888-936-7463. Please have this carcass tag number handy when registering a deer. The carcass tag number is located near the top of the carcass tag.

Go Wild offers several options for displaying a hunting license, including an authorized Wisconsin Driver License, Conservation Card or electronic PDF image.

GameReg tutorial places registration information at your fingertips

For more information regarding electronic registration, including a video tutorial, search keyword "GameReg." A link to the GameReg system is also available through the Pocket Ranger app for mobile devices.

2016 Wisconsin Fall Hunting and Trapping Forecast available online

Many fall hunting and trapping seasons in Wisconsin are just around the corner, and the 2016 Fall Hunting and Trapping Forecast [PDF] is now available.

To view this year's hunting and trapping forecast, visit and search keywords "forecast [PDF]" or "hunt."

People who missed three August live chats regarding deer hunting can review chat records online - search keyword "expert" and choose the chat of your choice. Hunters looking to brush up on their rules are encouraged to join DNR staff Nov. 10 at noon for a final deer season chat.

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).

Deer Show 2016 webpage features showtimes for this year's production

Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2016 with Dan Small will help hunters prepare for another fall deer hunt - while short previews are available online, the full show is currently airing on a number of television stations throughout Wisconsin. For show times, search keywords "deer show." To view previews, visit the department's Youtube page, select "playlists" and select "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2016 with Dan Small."

For more general information regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin, search keyword "deer."



Looking to try your hand at deer hunting?

Contact(s): DNR Bureau of Customer and Outreach Services, 608-266-2621

Enjoy discounted prices for first-time license purchases and be sure to fill out your first hunt certificate

MADISON - In its fifth year, the first-time buyer license continues to provide an opportunity to explore Wisconsin's outdoors and experience its hunting traditions at a reduced price.

Wisconsin residents who have never purchased a deer hunting license or have not purchased a Wisconsin resident deer hunting license in any of the prior 10 years can do so for as little as $5. Other certain first-time resident hunting and fishing licenses are also available at a discount with the same eligibility requirements. Certain non-resident licenses are also discounted for first-time buyers.

Successful first-time deer hunters are also reminded to fill out a first hunt certificate to commemorate time in the outdoors.

Hunting and fishing licenses can be purchased and printed online at or purchased at over 1,100 license agents statewide who will provide a printout of the license and tags. A listing of agents arranged by county can be found at, keywords "sales locations."

As a reminder, all hunters must:

DNR Customer Service Representatives are available to assist the public from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Customers may reach customer service at 1-888-WDNR INFo (1-888-936-7463) or by e-mail at For more information regarding the first-time license buyer program and first deer certificate, search keywords "first time buyer" and "first certificates."



A chronology of Wisconsin deer hunting: from closed seasons to record harvests

Contact(s): Sawyer Briel, DNMR communications, 608-282-5334

MADISON - Hunters have seen many changes come and go, but the traditions and time spent with family and friends in the outdoors have helped solidify the Wisconsin gun deer hunt as one of the best in the nation.

1834 - Lafayette County - first reported crop damage by deer.

1851 - First closed season for deer, Feb. 1 - June 30; Native Americans permitted to hunt anytime.

1876 - Hunting with dogs prohibited statewide.

1887 - Two game wardens appointed by governor at a monthly salary of $50; night hunting prohibited statewide.

1888 - Game laws published in pamphlet form.

1890 - First chief warden appointed.

1892 - Lawful to kill any dog running or hunting deer.

1895 - Sheboygan first county closed to deer hunting; deer cannot be transported unless accompanied by hunter; last October deer season in state.

1897 - First bag limit for deer, two per season; resident license costs $1, nonresident license costs $30; estimated license sales total 12,000.

1900 - Twelve hunters killed by firearms.

1903 - Estimated 78,164 licenses sold.

1905 - Salt licks prohibited.

1909 - Season 20 days long, limit one deer; first civil service exam given on a competitive basis for prospective wardens.

1910 - Deer populations drop to record low numbers due to unregulated hunting and market shooting.

1914 - Twenty-four hunters killed, 26 injured; license sales at 155,000

1915 - First buck only season.

1917 - Shining deer illegal while possessing a firearm; Conservation Commission delegated some powers related to deer season, but legislature retains authority to set seasons; deer tags (paper) required for the first time...they cost 10 cents.

1919 - Estimated kill is 25,152.

1920 - First use of metal deer tags...they cost 10 cents.

1921 - Wardens are instructed that "all deer found in possession...with horns less than three inches in length, is a fawn and should be confiscated."

1924 - Estimated kill is 7,000.

1925 - Legislature passes law closing deer season in alternate years.

1927 - No open season.

1928 - Deer hunters required to wear official conservation button while hunting; Game Division formed with Conservation Department; estimated kill is 17,000 with 69,049 deer tags sold.

1929 - No open season.

1930 - Estimated kill is 23,000 with 70,284 deer tags sold. First deer killed by a bowhunter.

1931 - No open season.

1932 - Deer tag price is raised to $1; estimated kill is 36,009 with 70,245 deer tags sold.

1933 - No open season; Conservation Congress, an advisory group representing public opinion registered at annual county hearings, begins to assist the Conservation Commission in establishing a deer management policy.

1934 - First official archery deer season; estimated gun kill is 21,251 with 83,939 deer tags sold.

1935 - No open season.

1937 - Shortest deer season on record, three days.

1938 - Use of .22 rifle and .410 shotgun prohibited.

1939 - Licensed children between ages 12 and 16 must be accompanied by parent or guardian; buckshot prohibited statewide.

1941 - Deer predators rare, timber wolves nearing extinction; estimated gun kill is 40,403 with 124,305 deer tags sold.

1942 - Back tags required while deer hunting.

1943 - First doe and fawn season in 24 years. The 1943 season was unique in Wisconsin, with a "split season" with forked (>1" fork) bucks-only for 4 days followed by a 3-day closure and then 4 days of antlerless-only (128,000 harvest).

1945 - First year of 'shotgun only' counties; wearing red clothing required while hunting deer.

1949 - The 1949 season was an unusual any-deer hunt - bucks with more than a two-inch fork were protected (159,000 harvest).

1950 - First 'any deer' season since 1919; estimated gun kill is 167,911 with 312,570 deer tags sold.

1951 - Deer hunting license and tag cost $2.50; orange clothing now included under red clothing law; Wisconsin leads nation in whitetail deer kill for third consecutive year.

1953 - First season gun deer hunters required to register deer at checking station.

1954 - Two-thirds of bucks harvested are less than three years old; portions of Walworth and Waukesha Counties and all of Jefferson County open for the first time since 1906.

1956 - 100th established gun deer season; registered gun kill is 35,562 with 294,645 deer tags sold.

1957 - Legislature authorizes party permit.

1958 - Longest deer season since 1916, 16 days; Rock County open for the first time since 1906; first harvest by deer management unit (in northwest and northeast only); registered gun kill is 95,234, of which 44,987 taken by party permit; 335,866 deer tags and 58,348 party permits sold, respectively.

1959 - First statewide deer registration by unit, and only time township of kill was collected; Game Management Division of Conservation Department assumes responsibility for coordinating the state's deer program; first open season in Kenosha County since 1906.

1960 - Hunter not permitted to buy a license after opening day of gun season; Green and Racine Counties open for the first time since 1906; all counties now open except Milwaukee; registered gun kill is 61,005, of which 25,515 taken by party permit; 338,208 deer tags and 47,522 party permits sold, respectively.

1961 - Resident big game license increased from $4 to $5; first use of SAK - sex-age-kill population-reconstruction technique for estimating deer numbers; hunters required to transport deer openly while driving to registration station; legislation authorizing unit specific quotas for antlerless harvest established.

1962 - Deer population above 400,000; deer management unit specific population goals established. First year of promoting the concept of a variable harvest quota to the public.

1963 - First year of quota party permits in eight management units; assassination of President Kennedy lessens hunting pressure.

1964 - Party permit quota extended to 32 management units.

1967 - Hunter Safety Education Program begins.

1970 - Registered gun kill is 72,844 with 501,799 licenses sold; 13 hunters killed.

1973 - No deer season fatalities. First year of mandatory hunter safety training.

1978 - Record registered gun kill is 150,845 with 644,594 licenses sold.

1980 - Blaze orange clothing required; first season of Hunter's Choice permit; new law prohibits shining wild animals from 10pm to 7pm, Sept. 15 - Dec. 31; coyote season closed in northern management units to protect nascent wolf population.

1981 - Record registered deer kill of 166,673 with 629,034 licenses sold.

1982 - Another record registered gun kill of 182,715 with 637,320 licenses sold; three deer season fatalities.

1983 - Harvest continues to rise with another record registered gun kill of 197,600 with 649,972 licenses sold; experimental antlerless deer hunt in six southern management units to relieve crop damage.

1984 - Big jump in registered kill, fourth record harvest in a row of 255,726 with license sales totaling 657,969; handgun deer hunting allowed in shotgun areas; group hunting legalized.

1985 - Fifth consecutive record kill of 274,302 with 670,329 licenses sold; deer season extended in 21 management units; legislature further strengthens road hunting restrictions.

1986 - Gun deer season now nine days statewide; landowner preference program begins for Hunter's Choice permits.

1987 - First year of bonus antlerless permits; seven fatalities and 46 injuries.

1988 - Handguns permitted statewide.

1989 - Record registered gun harvest of 310,192 with 662,280 licenses sold; pre-hunt herd estimate of 1.15 million deer; two fatalities and 37 firearm injuries.

1990 - License sales peak at 699,275. Another record gun kill of 350,040, including 209,005 antlerless deer; archers take 49,291 deer; pre-hunt herd estimate of 1.3 million; season extended for seven days in 67 management units.

1991 - First year of separate, seven-day muzzleloader season; third consecutive year of record gun harvest, 352,330; archery harvest jumps to 69,097; hunters allowed to buy more than one antlerless permit.

1992 - Natural Resources Board approves DNR secretary's recommendation to keep the gun season at nine days; new metro management units established around La Crosse, Madison and Milwaukee. After three record-breaking harvests, gun harvest drops to 288,820, still the fourth highest on record.

1993 - Pre-hunt herd population at 1 million with many units below prescribed goals; 34 units, mainly in the north, designated as buck-only units; license sales dip to 652,491; gun harvest at 217,584; archers take 53,008 deer; one fatality, 17 firearm injuries.

1994 - Gun harvest back up, by more than 90,000, to 307,629. Hunters Choice permit widely available; six northwest management units remain buck only; herd beginning to build up in southern agricultural range.

1995 - For the first time hunters can use their bonus or Hunter's Choice permits in either the gun, bow or muzzleloader seasons; gun harvest totals 398,002, a new state record; archers kill a record 69,269 deer; 32 firearm incidents, one fatality.

1996 - First October gun deer hunt since 1897; "Earn-a-Buck" rules, requiring hunters to harvest a doe before taking a buck, established in 19 deer management units in agricultural range; special four-day, antlerless-only season in October in all 19 of these DMUs. October gun harvest is 24,954 deer.

1997 - The safest gun season ever with one fatality and 10 injuries; 'Earn a Buck' provision scuttled; early Zone T (October gun) season in seven management units and three state parks.

1998 -Gun harvest of 332,254 is fifth highest; bow hunters take a record 75,301 deer, 18.5 percent of total; 19 firearm incidents with two fatalities; after a mild winter, most DMUs estimated to be above population goals; early October season held in one management unit, 67A.

1999 - Record gun harvest of 402,204 deer; record archery harvest at 92,203; licensed hunters at 690,194, second highest to date; resident deer license costs $20; non-resident license $135; early archery season, traditionally closed a week before November gun hunt, is extended in all 7 Zone T units through the Thursday preceding the traditional gun opener.

2000 - The gun harvest jumps by more than 125,000 deer to an all-time record of 528,494. With 694,712 licensed gun hunters, their success rate is an astonishing 76 percent. By comparison, in the 43 years from 1966 to 2009, the average success rate for gun hunters is 37 percent.

2001 - Routine testing by DNR, weeks after the close of hunting, reveals that three deer harvested in the Town of Vermont in Dane County had CWD, or chronic wasting disease. The gun harvest drops to 361,264, still the fifth highest on record and higher than any harvest prior to 1995. Archery harvest remains high at 83,120, so the total harvest is fourth highest on record. October and December Zone T gun hunts in 67 DMUs.

2002 - The DNR and hunters begin looking for answers after CWD is found for the first time in wild deer east of the Mississippi River. For two decades, the always fatal, contagious disease had been largely confined, in the wild, to deer and elk in Colorado and Wyoming. DNR reacts aggressively, setting up a CWD management zone, with expanded hunting, and a smaller disease eradication zone, with a 14-week gun hunt. DNR samples 41,000 deer statewide for CWD. License sales drop 10 percent.

2003 - Bow hunters harvest a record 95,607 deer. Gun deer license sales up 14 percent over 2002, climbing to 644,818. Earn-a-buck rules in effect and no bag limit in the CWD management zone in southwest Wisconsin; 115 wild deer test positive for CWD with all but two positives from the disease eradication zone.

2004 - Hunters set a new record with venison donations by giving 10,938 deer yielding nearly 500,000 pounds of venison for food pantries across the state. Widespread use of earn-a-buck and Zone T hunts. Bow hunters set yet another record, harvesting 103,572 deer. License sales up slightly to 649,955.

2005 - Top five gun deer harvest counties - all located in central Wisconsin - are Marathon (15,871), Clark (13,918), Waupaca (12,260), Shawano (11,748) and Jackson (11,461). DNR tests 4,500 deer in the agency's northeast region and CWD not detected.

2006 - Gun deer license sales at 644,906. Demographics show a gradually declining number of hunters nationwide due to a variety of changing social conditions. DNR, wildlife organizations and hunting clubs across state are ramping up efforts to encourage young hunters. NRB has approved a special, 2-day youth hunt in early October. Total gun harvest is 393,306, fifth highest on record.

2007 - Wisconsin's 156th deer season; archery harvest peaks at 116,010 deer; gun hunt now lasts 23 days in the CWD Zones; 57 of Wisconsin's 130 DMU's have earn-a-buck rules.

2008 - Most of southern Wisconsin now lies within the new CWD-management zone; focus has shifted to managing rather than eliminating the disease; rifles can be used to hunt deer in previously shotgun-only areas of the CWD zone; more than 642,000 licensed hunters kill 352,601 deer during all gun seasons.

2009 - The new "Mentored Hunting Program" is introduced, allowing any licensed hunter aged 18 or older to take any new hunter age 10 or older on a hunt. The mentor does not carry a weapon and stays within arm's reach of the novice. Nine-day gun hunt opens with unseasonably warm temperatures and heavy fog throughout much of the state. Gun harvest drops to 241,862.

2010 - Hunters may now divide a deer into up to five parts (four quarters plus the head attached to the spinal column and rib cage) to facilitate removal from the field. Hunting regulations are available on DNR's web site; 18 DMUs in the north have buck-only hunting during both gun and bow seasons to allow herd to grow in the north. No earn-a-buck units except in CWD zone.

2011-Archery season is permanently extended to run through the gun deer season. Hunters report higher deer numbers in north. There are no October herd control hunts outside the CWD Management Zone. Earn-a-buck and pre-gun season hunts are eliminated by the State Legislature statewide and hunters in the CWD Management Zone may shoot a buck first. Earn a Buck is replaced with "bonus buck". CWD detected in a doe harvested outside of Shell Lake in Washburn County, prompting sampling and public outreach. State hires independent deer trustee to review Wisconsin deer management. DNR embarks on multi-million, multi-year study to quantify various causes of deer death (whether by hunter, disease, weather, vehicle collision or predation by wolf, bear or coyote). More than 400 hunters volunteer help make the first year of field research a success.

2012 - For the first time since 1995, there are no October herd-control gun hunts anywhere in the state. CWD zone hunters can take additional bucks under "bonus buck" rules. Anyone may now hunt with a crossbow during any gun deer season. Hunter participation in deer field research remains strong; $5 introductory licenses for various game species are introduced to help recruit new hunters and encourage past hunters to return. Bowhunters set an all-time record harvest of bucks.

2013 - Rifles allowed for hunting statewide after research shows they pose no greater risk than shotguns even in more populated counties. Hunting allowed in most state parks for the first time for about a month in the spring and a month in the fall, with archery hunting in parks running longer. Citizen "action teams" working on the Deer Trustee Report complete their recommendations, the DNR prepares proposed changes to deer management and 35 public hearings are held statewide. One proposal: reduce the number of deer management units, either by combining units or managing deer by county. CWD surveillance expanded in Adams, Juneau and Portage counties after four deer test positive outside the CWD management zone in southern Wisconsin.

2014 -A crossbow season for deer is established for the first time, and the sale of crossbow licenses is robust. The crossbow season runs concurrently with the archery season, from mid-September through the first weekend in January. Crossbow permits are no longer limited to handicapped hunters or those aged 65 or older. Deer management units now coincide with county lines and fall under "farmland" or "forest" zones. After a second consecutive severe winter, antlerless permits are eliminated in 19 forest zone counties. As a precursor to a major change scheduled for 2015, a pilot program for electronic deer registration is established.

2015 - First year of electronic registration for recording harvested deer, allowing hunter to use a telephone or a computer with internet access to record their deer harvest. Over 309,000 deer are registered, including a new buck harvest record for archery/crossbow hunters. County Deer Advisory Councils and citizen involvement through programs like the Deer Management Assistance Program continue to play a key role in decision making and resource and habitat management as we enter a new era of deer hunting in Wisconsin.

2016 - The requirement to wear a backtag is eliminated, and blaze pink is allowed as a legal hunting color. Deer are no longer required to be tagged immediately upon recovery. A new licensing system, Go Wild, is introduced and gives hunters added convenience to purchase licenses and tags. County Deer Advisory Councils continue to play a key role in deer management in Wisconsin and provide feedback to help shape the 2016 season structure.



Keep some helpful tips in mind to ensure another safe hunting season in Wisconsin

Contact(s): Jon King, DNR hunter education specialist, 608-575-2294

MADISON - Thanks to hunters who work hard to learn the rules and regulations and practice safe hunting each year, Wisconsin remains one of the safest places in the world to hunt deer.

Jon King, hunter education administrator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, credits Wisconsin's reputation as safety-minded to hunters themselves and a strong corps of volunteer instructors dedicated to sending new hunters into the woods equipped with the best safety practices around.

"Wisconsin hunters value this annual state tradition that is as much about family and friends as it is about harvesting a deer," King said. "This state is fortunate to have thousands of volunteer hunter education instructors dedicated to keeping everyone safe while enjoying the outdoors - and even more hunters who carry on that safety priority during their own hunts and as mentors. This is what makes Wisconsin a great hunting state - the people."

Experts trace the state's culture of hunting safety to 1967, almost a half century ago, when the department launched a six-hour course stressing firearm safety. The course was voluntary, and while the impact was not momentous, the number of firearm injuries during the gun deer hunt began to slowly fall off.

In 1980, hunters were required to wear blaze orange during gun deer hunts, and the number of firearm incidents dropped more dramatically. Then, in 1985, an expanded hunter education certification program became mandatory for all hunters in Wisconsin born or after Jan. 1, 1973.

The state's ingrained hunter safety culture was created and is sustained by the program's dedicated, experienced volunteer instructors who have instilled skills, responsibility and ethics in more than one million students. About 28,000 new students are trained each year.

In 1966 in Wisconsin, the hunting incident rate was 44 injuries for every 100,000 hunters. Now the rate, based on a 10-year-average, is 4.04 incidents per 100,000 hunters, a reduction of more than 90 percent. Wisconsin has experienced four gun-deer seasons free of fatalities, (1972, 2010, 2011 and 2013) with three of them occurring in the past four years.

Warden King says hunting in Wisconsin is a safe, fun activity for the entire family.

King credits the expanded course and outstanding instructors as the main factors behind Wisconsin's safety record, but there are others. "Trends in hunting patterns have changed," King said. "There are fewer deer drives. The tendency is for gun hunters to go out and sit. It's more like bow hunting, where you sit for a couple hours

King is confident more incidents can be prevented by following these four basic principles of firearm safety - known as TABK:

For tree stand users, here are some easy tips to follow:

Each deer drive should be planned in advance with safety as the top priority, King said. "Everyone involved in the drive should know and understand the plan."

If you plan to participate in a deer drive:

King said department staff would like to thank Wisconsin hunters, who continue to serve as an example for ethical and safe hunting.

For more information regarding hunter education and tips for safe hunting in Wisconsin, search the DNR website,, for keywords "safety tips."



ATVs and UTVs are a great tool for hunters - be sure to check out some helpful tips and stay safe!

Contact(s): Gary Eddy, DNR ATV safety administrator, 608-219-2466

MADISON - All-terrain vehicles and utility-terrain vehicles are great tools to assist hunters with their hunts - but state recreational safety specialists say ATV and UTV operators need to keep a few safety tips in mind and ensure a safe hunt and ride.

For more information regarding ATV/UTV laws and safety, visit and search keyword "ATV."



Many tools available on the DNR website to find a new place to hunt and enjoy the outdoors this fall

Contact(s): Sawyer Briel, DNR communications, 608-282-5334

MADISON - Each year, thousands of outdoor enthusiasts use Wisconsin's public lands for a variety of activities, ranging from birdwatching to hunting. For those interested in exploring all Wisconsin has to offer, the department has a number of tools available to help users find a new favorite spot in the wild.

Most public lands are open to hunting; however, some have closed areas and special regulations and season dates. Be sure to check the property web page or contact a property manager for more information.

Public Access Lands atlas

Those in search of public hunting and trapping grounds this fall are reminded to check out the department's Public Access Lands atlas. The atlas includes all DNR properties, as well as nearly all federal and county-owned lands. Hunters are reminded to contact landowners beforehand to verify that hunting is allowed on a given property. People can download and print these maps free of charge from a home computer. For more information, visit and search keyword "atlas."

Voluntary Public Access - Habitat Incentive program

The Voluntary Public Access - Habitat Incentive program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, provides financial incentives to private landowners who open their property to year-round wildlife-dependent recreation. Currently, 257 VPA properties totaling more than 36,000 acres are available for public use this fall through the Voluntary Public Access program. These lands are open to public use under certain guidelines. VPA lands are displayed on the PAL interactive map viewer. Search keyword "VPA" to learn more.

Lands are clearly posted with a "Private Lands leased for Public Access" sign. Property access is limited to foot traffic only and only portable, temporary blinds and stands can be used. Feedback about user experience is essential to the continued success of this program - users are encouraged to complete an evaluation survey found at each VPA property, or use the QR code found on the sign posting to access the online version of the survey.

For a code of conduct (available in three languages), maps and additional information, search keyword "VPA."

Managed Forest and Forest Crop Law Programs

Managed Forest Law and Forest Crop Law are landowner-incentive programs that incorporate sustainable forest practices, like timber harvest and wildlife management, while improving public access to these lands.

Landowners who enroll may choose an "open" or "closed" designation for public recreation. Lands open to public recreation are available only for hunting, fishing, hiking, cross-country skiing, and sight-seeing. Hunters are encouraged to contact their local DNR Forester to learn more about these programs - search keywords "forest landowner," then click "find professional help" and use the Forestry Assistance Locator to find a DNR forester who has responsibility for that area of Wisconsin.

A mapping tool shows the approximate location of all MFL-Open and FCL lands in Wisconsin. Here, landowner info, acreage, and enrollment information is also available. To access the mapping tool, search keywords "MFL open land." For more general information regarding these programs, search keywords "managed forest law" and "forest crop law" for an FAQ and other helpful information.

Department staff would like to thank landowners throughout Wisconsin who have opened their property to public access - your commitment to helping others enjoy the outdoors has opened the door for new hunters.

State Parks

State parks provide a range of recreational opportunities, since year, in general, fall and archery hunting are also allowed in the open areas of state parks during the open season from Nov. 15 - Dec. 15. Be sure to visit and search keywords "hunting state parks" to learn more and find a park near you.


The Fields and Forest Lands Interactive Gamebird Hunting Tool gives hunters an interactive summary of young aspen and alder habitat to find woodcock and ruffed grouse hunting areas, pheasant-stocked public hunting grounds, and dove fields found on public hunting lands throughout Wisconsin

Features available within the program help hunters locate DNR public parking areas, overlay township descriptions, and provide access to maps and aerial photos of prospective hunting areas. Users can also print maps and find GPS coordinates to assist in navigation and estimate acreage and walking distance.

The mapping application is compatible with all major desktop and mobile web browsers (internet access is required). Mobile users can use FFLIGHT on-the-go to find habitat suitable for the species they wish to pursue. To learn more, search keyword "FFLIGHT."

Pocket Ranger Application

The free Pocket Ranger App gives hunters the tools to make it easier than ever to find a place to enjoy the outdoors and stay safe in the field - current features include:

Since the application's launch in November 2013, total downloads have eclipsed 210,000. To learn more and download this free application, search keyword "mobile apps," or search "Wisconsin Pocket Ranger" in the Apple App Store or Android Market from your Apple or Android device.

Adopt a Fish and Wildlife Area

The Adopt a Fish and Wildlife Area program provides an opportunity for those who frequent Wisconsin's public lands to give back to their favorite State Wildlife or Fisheries Area.

Sam Jonas, DNR wildlife biologist, and Mike Alaimo, WWA Chair for Waukesha County pose next to a sign identifying Rome Pond as a co-managed wildlife area.
Sam Jonas, DNR wildlife biologist, and Mike Alaimo, WWA Chair for Waukesha County pose next to a sign identifying Rome Pond as a co-managed wildlife area.
Photo Credit: DNR

Participants receive a first-hand look at how the department uses management goals to maintain thousands of acres of property throughout Wisconsin and play a key role in enhancing wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities for others to enjoy.

Whether through habitat and maintenance work on the property or a financial donation, it has never been easier to play a direct role in conservation. Partner efforts are recognized through signage on the adopted property and department outreach efforts.

Those interested in adopting a State Wildlife Area can participate individually, or as part of a group. If you or your organization is interested, please submit an application [PDF] at the nearest DNR office location. To learn more about adopting a Wisconsin Wildlife Area, visit the department website,, and search keyword "volunteer."



Share your hunt with others - connect with DNR on social media this fall

Contact(s): Sawyer Briel, DNR communications, 608-282-5334

MADISON - Whether you spend fall afternoons in a tree stand or at a state park hiking with friends and family, there are a number of ways to connect with Department of Natural Resources staff this fall and share your experiences.

The department uses a number of outlets to reach Wisconsin's citizens, and these channels are also a great way to share your stories. DNR staff looks forward to seeing photos from hunting trips and other outdoor activities - seeing their work enjoyed by others is truly special for staff.

Throughout fall hunting seasons, department staff will share helpful tips and answer questions on social media - this easy to use resource is an extremely valuable tool in learning more about everything from rules and regulations to wildlife biology.

Be sure to visit DNR's Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and LinkedIn pages to learn more and share your love for Wisconsin's wild outdoors with others.



Most trails open in northern Wisconsin although a few still affected by last summer's flooding...plan ahead

Contact(s): Brigit Brown, state trails coordinator, 606-266-2183 or Paul Holtan, office of communications, 608-267-7517

ASHLAND, Wis. - Despite last summer's storms that severely damaged roads and trails across northern Wisconsin, most trails are open and work continues to clear storm damage and make repairs where needed. Some sections of trails will be closed when the winter trail season kicks off. These closures are only implemented where necessary and are focused on the safety of tail users.

Many repairs have been completed by local and federal agencies and by clubs and volunteers, and trails in Douglas County will be completely open. But storm damage was more significant in Bayfield, Ashland and Sawyer counties and a number of major trail corridors need additional work before being able to be opened.

More than 30 people involved with trails in Ashland, Bayfield, Douglas and Sawyer counties met last month to review the status of trails affected by the storms and discuss how to get them open for the winter, according to Brigit Brown, state trails coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

"While 70 degree temperatures in early November probably don't have a lot of people thinking about winter trail uses like cross-country skiing and snowmobiling, it is very much in the minds of clubs and partners in northern Wisconsin who have been working diligently to clear trails of downed trees and make repairs to bridges, washed out culverts and other structures," Brown said. "It's been a tremendous, collaborative effort of federal, state, county, and local governments; with key roles played by local trail managers and volunteers such as those for the North Country Trail, the CAMBA mountain bike trail system, the Birkie Trail, and local snowmobile and all-terrain vehicle clubs."

"The goal is to have snowmobile trails 31 and 63 open by December 31, but trails 15, 22, 25, and 90 are going to take a little longer," Brown said. "Our partners are working on reroutes where possible, such as with Trail 25 near Marengo in Ashland County. We'll continue coordination with the North Country Trail as well to ensure opportunities for long-distance winter backpacking, and still other trails for fat biking opportunities."

Local units of government, usually the county, determine when trails will open for winter uses. Many trails cross private land and agreements with landowners often set dates for when trail easements begin and end, according to Gary Eddy, DNR motorized safety administrator. Local governments work closely with snowmobile clubs, who maintain and groom trails, to determine when snow conditions allow trails to open. Using trails before they are officially open is trespass and can cause trail damage and jeopardize easements with private landowners, Eddy said.

According to Brown, "Now is a great time to start thinking about planning a trip up north to participate in your winter trail activity of choice." People can find out more about the status of winter trails by checking the "snow conditions report" on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's website. Check for conditions by county in the left-hand scroll window.


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Need an expert?

The Office of Communications connects journalists with DNR experts on a wide range of topics. For the fastest response, please email and the first available Communications Specialist will respond to you.