deer hunt

Michele Woodford / Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

With just a few days left in Wisconsin’s gun deer season, hunters who do get a deer may be looking for a use for its heart.

Marge Gibson of Antigo’s Raptor Education Group says that organ is an ideal food for eagles and other raptors. 

“The deer heart is a perfect food for our birds.  We currently have 42 bald eagles in our care, and they go through an awful lot of food.  So it’s an excellent source of protein for them, and it’s hunters helping hunters.” 

Every year the wildlife rehabilitation center asks for donations of deer hearts.

Michele Woodford / Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Hunters registered more than ten thousand bucks in the northern district during opening weekend.  That’s down by about 12 percent compared to last year according to the DNR’s preliminary figures.

DNR Wildlife Biologist Jeremy Holtz says part of the decline is likely due to last winter’s taking a toll on the herd. 

Joyce Bong Erickson

Saturday is opening day of Wisconsin’s annual gun deer season.  For many families the hunt is about much more than taking a deer - it’s a time of family bonding, camaraderie and tradition.  In today’s History Afield, Writer Bob Willging has the story of a famous World War II combat pilot, who made deer hunting with his family a priority while home on leave in 1943.

Northland Pines School District has a new vacation this school year. Students and teachers will have the whole week off at Thanksgiving for deer season. 

Last year, nearly 200 students in the Northland Pines middle school and high school were absent from school on the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving break, many of them to take part in the 9-day deer hunting season. That’s nearly 15% of the district student body. This year, the Northland Pines School District responded by adjusting its vacation schedule accordingly. As superintendent Dr. Mike Richie explains,

Michele Woodford / Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Hunters may want to do some extra scouting before the gun-deer season opens this Saturday. Deep snow conditions are likely to change how deer are moving around. 

DNR Wildlife Biologist Jeremy Holtz says snow on the ground will help hunters see and track deer, but several feet of snow could make it challenging to traverse the terrain.  He says it will also affect where the deer are to be found.

Oregon Department of Transportation

The state’s six Chippewa tribes are again waiting to hear whether a federal judge will allow tribal members to hunt deer at night in the ceded territory. 

The issue was first in the courts more than twenty years ago, and in 1991 a judge ruled that the traditional practice of hunting deer by night would be too dangerous for the public in off-reservation lands.

Deer season is drawing nearer, and that means hunters will have to face a variety of changes in the way the state is managing deer.  In today’s Wildlife Matters, DNR Wildlife Biologist Jeremy Holtz talks about one of the key changes – the creation of county deer advisory councils.

Michele Woodford / Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

More deer hunters will be able to shoot with a crossbow this deer season.  In fact, the licenses are available to any qualified hunter. 

Until now, only disabled hunters were eligible to shoot with a crossbow.

DNR Warden Supervisor Dave Walz in Woodruff says Walz says some groups opposed expanding the crossbow hunt, fearing it made things too easy compared to a traditional bow and arrow. 

Ken Thomas

Deer hunting season will be buck-only this fall for many northern counties.  

The state Natural Resources Board has approved DNR staff recommendations for a zero quota antlerless deer hunt in 19 counties and four tribal reservations.  State officials say the restrictions are necessary to let population levels in the northern forest recover…after a harsh winter took its toll on the deer herd.

Michele Woodford / Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Deer enthusiasts may want to attend the DNR’s spring hearings on fish and game.  For the first time, the hearings will also include updates on deer herd status after a grueling winter, as well as hunting regulations. 

DNR District Wildlife Supervisor Mike Zeckmeister says it’s a good chance to check in with the public. 

“It should be a great opportunity to give a quick update on what the deer herd is looking like in their particular county, and also to be able to give a really good briefing on changes to the deer season as a result of the deer trustee report.”

Rennett Stowe

The harsh winter we’re experiencing could affect this year’s deer hunting season.  Biologists are predicting low numbers of antlerless permits to give the deer population a chance to rebound. 

DNR Big Game Specialist Kevin Wallenfang says deer are well adapted for cold, but it still takes a toll. 

“A year like this, where we started in November – their fat reserves were being taxed very early in the year.  We’ve had very cold temperatures, very deep snow – all of the things that can hurt them kind of are going on right now.” 

Ken Thomas

The state Natural Resources Board will consider new rules tomorrow for how the state handles deer registration.  But some tavern owners are complaining the rules will hurt business.       


The governor’s so-called deer czar James Kroll has recommended a switch to registering deer online or by phone, instead of in person like at a gas station or bar. 

Steve Moran owns Moran’s Landing in Nokomis.  He says registration brings in a sizable portion of business during deer season. 

Oregon Department of Transportation

One of Wisconsin’s tribal leaders is expressing disappointment at last week’s federal ruling against night hunting.  

Six Chippewa tribes had filed suit, arguing that night hunting in ceded territory is a federally protected treaty right.  But Judge Barbara Crabb ruled against the practice Friday, citing a risk to the public.

Lac du Flambeau Chairman Tom Maulson says it’s a traditional practice that hasn’t resulted in any incidents.

Ken Thomas

Total firearm accidents during the gun-deer season number eight, one more than last year. 

Six happened during opening weekend, and two more were reported last week.  None of those were fatal, but a hunter shot Thanksgiving Day was seriously injured.

DNR hunter education specialist Jon King says it happened in Dunn County.                       

“The victim in this point was shot by a member in his deer drive, and he was shot in the stomach.  So he was airlifted from the scene.”

Wisconsin's six Chippewa tribes met last week in Mole Lake with state officials to talk about natural resource issues within the ceded territory.

Lac du Flambeau tribal spokesperson Brandon Thoms says the tribes and the state meet to keep communication open.