Updated Monday, 4/30 – The Natural Resources Board adopted a season structure for the 2012 Wisconsin deer hunting seasons at its meeting April 25 in Madison. The season structure continues to build on changes implemented in 2011 at the request of hunters and includes a mix of regular and herd control units that will allow the harvest of bucks plus antlerless deer and Chronic Wasting Disease management units.
“You will see our 2012 season structure moves in the direction hunters have asked. There are fewer herd control units and more regular units. In some areas of the state, we have limited antlerless permits to help the herd grow. Not everyone is getting everything they want, but we are trying to listen and be responsive,” said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp. “We are striving to make the hunting season enjoyable and satisfying while balancing all the social and biological factors and interests of our stakeholders. We need our partners, the hunters and landowners, to help us in managing Wisconsin’s deer herd.
“A lot work and thought went into this season structure and I especially want to thank the thousands of hunters and other interested citizens who either attended one of our deer hunter forums or completed our online survey, letting us know their thoughts on deer season structures.”
A map of the 2012-13 season structure is available on the DNR website dnr.wi.gov search keyword “DMU”.
Regular Season Units
For 2012, 56 units will be regular season units where hunters may harvest a buck during both the archery and gun season. Hunters will also have an opportunity to purchase a limited number of additional antlerless deer tags at $12 each in 50 of the 56 units where permits are available. Six units will be designated as buck-only for all 2012 season, down from eight in 2011.
Herd Control Units
The number of herd control units has decreased from 64 in 2011 to 44 in 2012. These units will have antlerless harvest permits available for $2 each.
CWD Management Zone
The deer season in the CWD management zone will be the same as in 2011. Hunters expressed mixed opinions to the department on the desirability of a four-day October gun hunt, with hunters both for and against this early gun hunt. There will be an October antlerless-only deer gun hunt Oct. 11-14.
CWD management zone archery and gun hunters may again harvest either a buck or doe as their first deer. If hunters wish to pursue additional deer including antlered bucks, they will be able to do so under what is now being called the Bonus Buck opportunity, which replaces the Earn-a-Buck terminology. The rules have not changed, so additional bucks may be taken as long as the hunter first shoots an antlerless deer and receives a Buck Authorization Sticker when they register the antlerless deer. The hunter may also qualify by bringing in an antlerless deer with the extra buck at the time of registration.
CWD in Washburn County
Wildlife managers in March received laboratory confirmation of a CWD-positive wild deer in Washburn County’s Deer Management Unit 15. The deer quota in unit 15 has been set to maintain the herd at current population levels for the unit. Surrounding units (DMUs 11, 12, 17) have similar recommendations aimed at holding populations at current levels. The use of bait for hunting will be banned in Polk, Burnett, Washburn, and Barron counties. Hunters will be asked to provide a minimum of 500 deer for CWD testing during the hunting season, although collection of car-killed deer will begin immediately. Tissue samples from hunter-harvested deer will be collected at registration stations.