FAQs: Special Edition (#2) - Gun-Deer Hunt

Warden Wire Section: Outdoor Recreation published on November 14, 2012

By: Bureau of Law Enforcement

November 14, 2012

Welcome to another special edition of a popular Warden Wire feature -- the Frequently Asked Questions. During the days before -- and during -- the November 17 - 25 gun-deer hunting season in Wisconsin, Warden Wire will carry Frequently Asked Questions dealing specifically with this deer hunt season. Today is the second installment of these special edition FAQs taken by the DNR Call Center. The Call Center is staffed daily, 7 a.m. - 10 p.m., and offers bilingual service in Spanish and Hmong. The number is 1-888-936-7463.

Question 1: Here’s a scenario: An archery hunter is in his stand. The hunter’s buddy, also an archery hunter and his buddy’s wife, a non-hunter, are driving deer toward the hunter in the stand. My question: Is this considered group hunting, and therefore illegal, once the hunter driving the deer comes into visual or voice contact?

Answer: "Group Hunting" refers to the act of shooting deer with a firearm for other members of your party who are also hunting with a firearm, and having those people tag deer they didn't shoot. This is legal and accepted for gun hunting, but not for bow hunting. "Hunting as a group" is what is happening in the question above. Use of other licensed and unlicensed individuals to drive deer to licensed hunters is legal for both gun and bow hunting and can be very effective! The situation (hunting as a group with bows) described is legal, so long as each person who is hunting for deer shoots and tags their own deer. It would not be legal for the first hunter (on stand) to shoot multiple deer and have the others (those driving) tag them. It's the act of shooting/tagging other hunter's deer that makes the "group hunting" unique. It's fine to hunt as a group while bow hunting so long as each hunter shoots and tags their own deer. Good question!

Question 2: Can a flashlight be mounted on a gun to use at point-of-kill for coyote?

Answer: A common misunderstanding some have is they believe it is only legal to use a flashlight if they are actually holding the flashlight in their hand. This is not actually what the law says or requires. The law simply says it is only legal to hunt certain species at night when hunting on foot, and if a light is used, it must be a flashlight which can only be used at the point-of-kill. Flashlight is defined by the statutes to mean a battery-operated light which is designed to be held and carried by hand. In other words, not a car headlight, fuel-operated head lamps, electric lights, etc. There is nothing illegal about attaching a “flashlight” to a person’s firearm or hat so that the hunter does not have to both hold the light in one hand and try to hold and shoot the firearm with the other hand. There are clips made and sold that are designed to allow a person to attach small flashlights to hats, etc., so a person can have their hands free. A “flashlight” taped or otherwise attached to the barrel of a firearm would be legal to use at the point-of-kill.

Question 3: I am an archery hunter. Let’s say I am archery hunting during the gun-deer season and I shoot a deer, but the deer runs off and is shot by another hunter with a firearm. The deer then drops. Who should tag it? The deer has both an arrow hole and a gunshot hole. There likely will be questions when it is taken to be registered.

Answer: The law says any person who kills a deer has to tag it, unless the person who shoots the deer and the person who tags it are lawfully hunting together and both using firearms. So, if someone were hunting near him and was able to shoot (with a gun) the deer that was still alive after an arrow wound, that person (gun hunter) would have to tag the deer and would have the legal right to do so. There’s no guarantee that the arrow hit would have killed the animal (or that a gunshot would either). Some hunters operate under the principle that the first person to shoot an animal should be the one to tag it, while others look more closely at the facts at hand to make a fair and ethical decision on who should tag the deer.

Question 4: Can a felon buy a gun-deer license?

Answer: State law does not prohibit a felon from purchasing a gun deer license, as long as his/her hunting privileges are not revoked. A felon or other person who is prohibited by state law from possessing a firearm simply cannot possess, control or use a firearm. Beginning April 20, 2012, a gun-deer hunting license now allows the holder of that license the option of using a crossbow or bow and arrow instead of a firearm. So as long as the person’s hunting privileges are still in place, a person can purchase an archery license and hunt with a bow and arrow under the archery season (or a crossbow if age 65 or older or with a crossbow permit), AND/OR can purchase a gun-deer license and hunt with a bow and arrow or a crossbow under the authority of that license during the firearm and muzzleloader deer seasons. A felon can be hunting in a group with others, provided he/she does not place themself in the position of being in possession and control of a firearm, and they may not “group hunt.” Not being able to group hunt means that a felon, or other person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm, may not shoot a deer with a bow or crossbow for someone else to tag, AND may not tag any deer shot by someone else.

Question 5: On page 38 of the deer regulations, the last bullet point about trespassing says: “You cannot enter land without the express or implied consent of the owner or occupant of the land.” A person rents the back 40 for agricultural purposes and wants to know, as the renter, does he have hunting rights or does he have to ask the landowner. As the renter, can he tell people they cannot hunt on the land or be on the land? Does anything change if he were to be living on the land?

Answer: Renting land for farming purposes, such as growing crops or grazing livestock, does not mean the renter also has any rights to hunt or engage in other activities on those lands. Generally, a renter does not have hunting rights to the rental property, unless the owner of the property has given written or verbal consent.

Question 6: Is there a magazine size limit for hunting deer?

Answer: There is not a magazine capacity limit for deer hunting. Hunters may use any size magazine to hunt deer (3 round, 10 round, 30 round are common). Hunters in "shotgun only" areas are able to use as many slugs as their shotgun will hold (no plug needed).

Question 7: Is it legal to have a concealed handgun on me without a concealed weapon permit while on property I rent or live on? What if I am using all-terrain vehicle on my own property, may I have the concealed handgun on me?

Answer: Under the firearm transportation law changes that took effect November 2011, a person who is at least 18 and can legally possess a handgun is no longer required to have a handgun unloaded or encased while in, on, or transporting the handgun in or on a vehicle, unless in an area where loaded uncased firearms are not allowed, such as on a roadway within 1,000 feet of a school or on school grounds. A person on their own land, or land they legally occupy, can carry a concealed handgun on their land, even if on an ATV. But if they operate the ATV or other vehicle off their land, the handgun cannot be concealed in or on the vehicle unless they have the CCW license.

Question 8: Are Luminocks legal to use for bow hunting? The intent is to help track the deer after I’ve shot it.

Answer: They are legal to use in Wisconsin. Some other states prohibit anything electronic, so they may not be legal in some other states. But they are legal here in Wisconsin.

Question 9: Is it legal to hunt coyote at night during the archery season if I do not have an archery license or archery weapon?

Answer: Hunting hours apply to all species during the 9-day gun-deer season and the Friday before (outside the CWD zone). When the gun-deer season is not open, then coyotes can be hunted at night, just like hunting for raccoons if hunting with a firearm. It is not legal to hunt any species at night (including coyotes, fox & raccoons) with a bow and arrow or crossbow when the season is open for hunting deer or bear with a bow.

Question 10: Is it ok to carry both a gun and bow and arrow with you during the deer gun season?

Answer: Yes, a customer can carry a gun and a bow and arrow while hunting. What really matters is for the hunter to have the proper license and use the legal weapon when taking a particular game species. Just carrying the weapon is not the violation.

Question 11: Where can I find Warden Wire's first installment of the Special Edition FAQs about the gun-deer season?

Answer: Use this link,


Or go to dnr.wi.gov, search Warden Wire and look for the FAQs Special Edition from November 10. To subscribe to the free e-mail news service about the DNR conservation wardens, Warden Wire, scroll to the bottom of the Warden Wire page and click on the red mail box next to the word, Subscribe.

Last Revised: Wednesday, November 14, 2012

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