Growing herd, relaxed rules should increase opportunities
By Ed Nadolski
Editor in Chief
Area residents will join hundreds of thousands of other hunters throughout the state in pursuit of white-tailed deer as Wisconsin’s annual nine-day gun season opens Saturday.
State wildlife officials are offering an opportunistic forecast for the season running through Nov. 25, but those hopes – as always – will be dashed or confirmed by the results of the actual hunt.
In the three-county Kenosha-Racine-Walworth area, there has been anecdotal evidence that prospects for the season are good.
Area deer rutting activity seems to have increased recent weeks, according to Department of Natural Resources Conservation Warden Kevin Dilley of Kansasville. More bucks have been seen chasing does, he reported, and many sportsmen think deer hunters may see rutting activity into gun deer season.
DNR Area Wildlife Supervisor Don Bates believes “hunters should have excellent opportunities” throughout the state’s southern district.
“A mild winter followed by an early spring brought does through winter in excellent shape and this year’s fawns were born into a lush environment that turned hot and dry through the summer,” Bates wrote in his forecast for the district.
Locally, hunters who want it should have ample opportunity to bag the deer of their choice under the relaxed regulations for bagging deer in the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone, which includes western Racine and Kenosha counties and all of Walworth County.
Hunters in this zone are able to take advantage of Bonus Buck structure. Under that rule each deer tag allows the holder to bag one buck and unlimited antlerless deer, with the right to kill one additional buck with each antlerless deer taken.
The increased opportunities are intended to trim the size of the deer herd to slow the spread of the fatal disease in the management zone, which includes the southern third of the state.
CWD deer carcass tags are free and are offered at a rate of four tags, per hunter, per day.
More traditional carcass tag rules are in effect in the middle and northern parts of the state.
Kevin Wallenfang, big game ecologist for the DNR, said that getting back to a more normal season framework seems to have many people enthusiastic this year.
“Add to that the fact that deer populations across the north have increased in many units thanks to a very mild winter and reduced antlerless permits, and hunters could be in for a very satisfying year,” Wallenfang said. He added, however, that some northern units are still below goal, so hunters should not expect to see a lot of deer in some areas.
Deer populations throughout most of the farmland regions of the state are strong, he said, especially on private lands. Still, despite comparatively high deer numbers, farmland units can be difficult to hunt, especially for those spending their season on public lands where hunting pressure is often much higher than surrounding private properties.
While the deer herd is up in general, individual success will be determined by a combination of factors, according to Wallenfang.
Hunter effort, weather, deer distribution and site selection can all factor into a successful hunt.
“Deer are not distributed evenly across the landscape and their movements vary greatly from one day to the next,” Wallenfang said. “Some hunters simply have access to better hunting and more deer.”
If you’re lucky, here’s where to register your deer
Deer carcass registration and CWD testing stations will open for the gun deer season beginning Nov. 17 in the Chronic Wasting Disease-Management Zone of southeast Wisconsin.
The hunting season runs through Sunday, Nov. 25.
All deer killed in the CWD zone must be registered no later than 5 p.m. on the day after it was harvested within the unit of kill or adjacent CWD unit.
The following are nine-day firearm deer season registration stations in the area. Hunters are advised to call ahead before bringing their deer in for registration to verify hours of operation.
A full listing of registration stations is available online at: dnr.wi.gov.
Burlington – Artisan Taxidermy,* 282 S. Pine St., (262) 763-4378; and Berndt’s Hide Service,* 30040 Mt. Tom Road, (262) 539-3470.
Caledonia – Lady Luck Bar, 2121 27th St., (262) 835-9324.
Delavan – Lakeside Bait and Tackle,* 3542 Highway 50, (262) 725-7007.
Eagle – Kettle Citgo Station, at junction of highways 59 and 67, (262) 594-3488.
East Troy – East Troy BP, 1880 County Road ES, (262) 642-5744.
Lake Geneva – Arrowsmith Inc., 2566 Highway 120, (262) 249-9933.
Mukwonago – Village Mini Mart (Citgo) 201 S. Rochester St., (262) 363-5102.
Paddock Lake (Salem) – Paddock Lake Sporting Goods* – 23522 75th St., (262) 843-1625.
Tichigan (Waterford) – Ron’s Service Station,* 8226 Big Bend Road, (262) 895-7700.
Whitewater – Pete’s Tire Service,* W8285 Sunrise Lane, (262) 473-8788.
* Indicates CWD testing stations