Submitted to OnFocus – Deer hunters throughout the state will have their first opportunity to enjoy the woods this fall with the opening of the 2020 archery and crossbow deer seasons, which run concurrently statewide from Sept. 12 to Jan. 3, 2021. The archery and crossbow seasons are extended to January 31, 2021 in metro sub-units, and many counties will offer the antlerless-only holiday hunt between the Christmas and New Year holidays.
“Reports from many areas of the state indicate that people are generally seeing good deer numbers and excellent antler growth,” said Bob Nack, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) big game section chief.
In 2019, archery and crossbow hunters harvested more than 92,000 deer, including more than 54,000 bucks, which was a slight increase over 2018. This year, Forest County and the forest zone portions of Marinette and Oconto counties will be the only units with buck-only seasons. Throughout the remainder of the state, antlerless hunting opportunities are available using farmland (Zone 2) and bonus antlerless deer harvest authorizations. Visit dnr.wi.gov to access an interactive map with more information on county-specific seasons.
Hunting with a crossbow has provided an additional opportunity for many hunters throughout Wisconsin, with more women deer hunters using crossbows than other hunting equipment. 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. Only one buck harvest authorization and allotment of antlerless harvest authorization(s) will be issued per hunter and may be filled with either weapon.
Tree stand safety is also a key consideration through the deer seasons and hunters should always wear a safety harness, use three points of contact when going into or out of the stand and use a haul line to bring their unloaded bow or crossbow into the stand. For more information regarding tree stand safety, visit dnr.wi.gov.
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 2020, one to five additional Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless harvest authorizations will be included with each deer hunting license, depending on the county of choice. Hunters who have not yet purchased a deer hunting license will be prompted to select the county and land-type for the farmland (Zone 2) antlerless harvest authorizations at the time of purchase. Licenses may be purchased online at GoWild.WI.Gov or at 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 select the unit and land type for the antlerless harvest authorizations included with their license online from their Go Wild account.
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 their date of birth.
Hunters have three options to register their deer:
- Online at GameReg.WI.Gov (fastest and easiest option)
- By phone at 1-844-426-3734 (1-844-GAME-REG)
- Electronically at a participating in-person registration station
For more information regarding electronic registration, visit dnr.wi.gov.
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