Archery Deer Season Opens September 13th

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Wisconsin’s 2003 early archery deer hunting season opens one half hour before sunrise Saturday, Sept. 13, with the regular early season running through Nov. 20. The late archery deer season runs Dec. 1 through Jan. 3, 2004.

Hunters planning to hunt in deer management units (DMUs) designated as Zone T or within chronic wasting disease (CWD) management zones need to be aware of special regulations for these zones. New this year, all deer hunting regulations are included in a separate hunting regulations brochure that is available at any license vendor, Department of Natural Resources service center, or on the DNR Web site.

At this time there is not a prohibition against baiting deer in Wisconsin going into the opening of the archery season.

“We’re encouraging hunters not to bait deer statewide and especially in the CWD management zones in an effort to help control the spread of CWD in the state,” said Tom Hauge, director of the DNR wildlife management program.

“The available science, field research and the professional opinions of dozens of nationally recognized animal health experts all support banning baiting and feeding as a means to limit spread of CWD,” added Hauge. “Baiting and feeding can help CWD spread and get established by artificially congregating animals. The stakes are high and the deck is stacked in favor of disease. In the wild, once a disease starts to spread, it’s tough to put the brakes on. We need to apply all the measures we can to have a chance of beating CWD.”

Additionally, Hauge said, hunters need to stay abreast for changes to the current situation, as it is possible that additional baiting regulations could be approved prior to opening weekend.

Baiting is the practice of putting out some type of food source in an area being hunted to attract deer. Prior to the discovery of CWD in Wisconsin, regulations allowed hunters to place up to 10 gallons of bait in an area being hunted, with certain other restrictions. Following the discovery of CWD, the NRB approved a temporary ban that prohibited both baiting and feeding deer statewide in Wisconsin. The temporary ban expired April 30, 2003. The NRB is seeking approval of long-term ban, but legislative committees have rejected a statewide ban. In the absence of any new temporary or long-term rules, the regulations for baiting and feeding rules reverted back to what they were prior to the discovery of CWD in the state.

Deer herd remains above goal in most of the state

State wildlife biologists estimate the state’s deer herd is approximately 1.4 million animals, which continues to be above the pre-hunt population goal of 1.1 million. Efforts to reduce the deer population closer to goal will continue this year, with 47 deer management units designated as Zone T units. Archery and gun hunters may use their licenses to shoot either an antlered or antlerless deer in these units, they receive one additional antlerless only permit that can be used in any Zone T unit, and bonus antlerless permits are available for purchase in these units ($12 resident, $20 non-resident).

Archery Harvest in all Zone T units is restricted to antlerless deer from Oct. 30 – Nov. 2. Archery harvest in Zone T units south of Hwy. 8 is also restricted to antlerless deer from Dec. 11 - 14. Zone T units north of Hwy. 8 will not participate in the December firearm hunt. Normal archery rules and regulations apply to these units.

Special regulations for chronic wasting disease management area

Deer management units, including state park units, located in the Chronic Wasting Disease Herd Reduction and Intensive Harvest Zones will again have special regulations for the 2003 season. These units will have extended archery and gun seasons and an earn-a-buck season structure. The earn-a-buck structure requires a hunter to harvest an antlerless deer before they are legally eligible to harvest an antlered buck. In the CWD units hunters will again be eligible to harvest a buck for each antlerless deer they shoot. Hunters planning on hunting one of the CWD Zones should review the 2003 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations for specific details on hunting dates, rules and zone boundaries.