Wisconsin’s 160th Deer Season Closes
This past Sunday, November 27th, marked the end of the 160th deer gun season in Wisconsin. There still are opportunities for hunters to harvest a deer if they haven’t yet, want to continue hunting and being in the outdoors, or shoot a deer with a muzzleloader, and hunters may also hunt to donate a deer to any of the many food pantries where people are clamoring for venison to help feed their families in these tough economic times. Today, November 28, the muzzleloader season opened in Wisconsin and runs thru December 7 in all of the state. A hunter may harvest one buck per unused Gun Buck Deer Carcass Tag and one antlerless deer per unused Unit Specific Antlerless Deer Carcass Tag during this year’s muzzleloader season.
The bow hunting season is still open for archers and will remain open till January 8, 2012. The harvest limit is still one buck per your unused Archery Buck Carcass Tag except during the Antlerless Deer Only Hunt from December 8-11 when only antlerless deer may be harvested. This has been a very good year for bow hunters because the elimination of the Earn-A-Buck program has allowed bow hunters the chance to harvest a “trophy” buck without first shooting a doe. For years, I’ve heard bow hunters complain about this law and finally they got a regulation which is fair and gives bow hunters an equal chance at harvesting a trophy buck. This is one reason that there has been numerous trophy class bucks harvested this season when before they had to harvest an antlerless deer first before taking a buck.
There still is an antlerless deer only season for gun hunters with unused Unit Specific Antlerless Deer Carcass Tag that runs from December 8-11, 2011. This hunt is valid throughout the entire state. The Wisconsin DNR has a very good website at www.dnr.state.wi.us where all the information that you may want is located under Deer Updates. This is a special section just for the deer hunting season with all the rules and regulations, special seasons, pictures, videos, and where you may donate deer for the hungry. Check this website out because it contains everything that you may need to be up to date on Wisconsin’s 160th deer season. I particularly enjoyed the video taken of people who were registering their deer and their stories and memories of this year’s hunt and previous hunts. Memories and tradition are two of the main reasons many people hunt and hearing them recall their hunt and tell you a story that meant something to them is well worth listening to as you think of this year’s hunt.
Personally, I registered deer both weekends at the Wilderness Fish and Game store in Sauk City and its good to talk and see people after they have harvested a deer and even if they haven’t shot a deer people love to tell their stories. The excitement, joy, happiness, and pride that people show after harvesting a deer is something that is well worth seeing because the hunters are usually so happy. The hunter may be an older hunter who’s been hunting for decades, or a young boy or girl harvesting their first deer, or even the hunter who may not have gotten a deer but still enjoys being outdoors with friends and relatives for the friendship and camaraderie that the gun deer season brings to hunters young and old.
The days of the old deer camps may be gone, but the spirit and tradition of the hunt is still there. States and various outdoor organizations are working hard and starting new programs to bring more young children into hunting and the outdoor world. Wisconsin and many other states now have mentor hunting programs where children as young as 10 years old can learn to hunt with a mentor over 18 years. This year, Wisconsin had thousands of new hunters because of the mentor program where the mentor must be within arm’s reach of the child and there can only be one gun for the two of them.
Opening weekend, there were over 112,000 deer registered and that number will increase as all the reports come in from all over the state. After opening weekend, the number of deer registered in this area was low with not as many hunters out in the woods and fields due mainly to the weather conditions. There were some hunters out on Thanksgiving and I registered a couple dozen deer for those who braved the wind and cold. This past weekend was a tough one for hunters with more rain and colder weather which kept the deer harvest numbers down and many hunters opted for watching football and staying home. On opening weekend, there were over 400 deer registered in Sauk City which is about normal for this area. I think the total number in our area will be down slightly manly because this past weekend was rainy and cold as much of the state was too. There were still over 600,000 licenses sold which is a little below normal and I think that the state numbers will also be down from the last few hunting seasons.
Many things have changed over the years when it comes to deer hunting harvest numbers and the number of deer hunters. We need to keep recruiting young hunters in state programs and the baby-boomers who are stopping their hunting can help with mentoring and doing anything positive to bring new hunters into the woods and be part of this great Wisconsin tradition. Deer hunting has changed and will continue to adapt to the times where people hunt when they can and wherever they can instead of the “old days” when hunters took the week off and headed north to their deer camp. These camps and hunting opportunities are regularly changing with the times, but the tradition of deer hunting will continue as we change rules and continue to try to recruit more and younger deer hunters. There’s always time for computers, sports, and other activities in today’s world. But, deer hunting will adapt and change to keep up with the changes we constantly face in today’s world. I haven’t hunted for years due to physical difficulties, but I still like to be around deer hunters young and old for the century-old tradition and camaraderie. Keep hunting and teach today’s young the joy and fun that hunting can and always will be to so many of us. Keep hunting and bring more of today’s youth into hunting and the “Great Outdoors.”