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Deer hunting

Buck white-tailed deer in long grass
Linda Freshwaters Arndt

Buy a deer hunting license.

Learn about Wisconsin's deer management.

Register a harvested deer with Game Reg

Recognized nationwide as one of the country’s premier white-tailed deer hunting states, Wisconsin has both an abundant herd and a proven reputation for producing some of the largest bucks in the world. With over seven million acres of land open for public hunting across a diverse range of habitats, you can pursue the experience that suits you. From walking all day on a fresh track in the great Northwoods, to sitting the fertile river bottoms and agricultural lands in the south.

Whether you are new to hunting or preparing for your fiftieth season, Wisconsin has what you need for great hunting and a lifetime of memories in the deer woods.

At the request of the Natural Resources Board, the department conducted a thorough analysis of the use of crossbows in Wisconsin, and across the country. The crossbow report took into consideration a number of different factors including the biological implications to the deer population, license sale trends, effects on gun hunting, as well as the motivations behind weapon selection among hunters.

Wisconsin's Evaluation of Crossbow Use and Season Structure [PDF]

What you need to know for this season

Deer hunting FAQs [PDF]

Antlerless deer harvest authorization availability

Season dates

Rules and regulations

Wisconsin Hunting Regulations

Antlerless Deer Hunting Guide [PDF]: Explore opportunities and regulations specific to harvesting antlerless deer.

Carcass movement regulations: Learn how and where deer can be moved.

Baiting and feeding regulations: Check here often to find out if your county allows baiting and feeding of deer.

2020 Season structure

Season dates

2020 deer season structure

Click here to view a larger PDF.

2018-2020 Deer Management Zones and Units

Deer Management Zones (DMZs) divides the state into four zones based on habitat type: Northern Forest, Central Forest, Central Farmland and Southern Farmland.

Deer Management Units (DMUs) generally follow county boundaries, but some counties are split into two DMUs by a Deer Management Zone boundary. DMUs were updated in 2018; be sure to know where you're hunting this fall!

For more information about hunting opportunities in each DMU, review the interactive DMU map

deer management zones

Click here to view a larger PDF.

Special hunts and learning opportunities

Youth Deer Hunt: special hunting opportunities for youth under age 18

Mentored hunting: hunting opportunities for new hunters of all ages

Deer hunting for hunters with disabilities

Deer hunting on Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Antlerless only hunt at Sandhill Wildlife Area: Apply for special access to hunt antlerless deer at Sandhill Wildlife Area.

Learn to Hunt: Explore Wisconsin's Learn to Hunt program to try something new or become a mentor

Chronic wasting disease

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a degenerative disease of the brain and nervous tissue that infects white-tailed deer and other cervids. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources began monitoring the state's wild white-tailed deer for CWD in 1999. The first positives were found in 2002 through testing of hunter-harvested deer in November 2001. While testing a harvested deer is not required, hunters are encouraged to learn about CWD in Wisconsin and stay up to date on mandatory baiting and feeding restrictions.

Learn about CWD in Wisconsin

Bait and feed legally

Moving, processing and disposing of carcass

Prepare for the hunt

Get ahead of the game by preparing before this year's hunting season.

Wild Wisconsin web series: videos, podcasts and more for Wisconsin hunters

Hunt Wild Wisconsin Mobile App: The only hunting app you need.

Public access lands maps

Field Dressing Deer: Pocket Guide [exit DNR] [PDF]

Deer Hunting Fall Forecast

After the harvest

You successfully harvested a deer. Now what?

  1. Register your deer through Game Reg. Registration is required and must be completed by 5 p.m. the day after the deer carcass is recovered.
  2. Get your deer tested for CWD. CWD testing is not required, but it is recommended. Sampling is free and easy!
  3. Process your deer and, once your CWD test results come back, enjoy the meat. Check out the Wild Wisconsin web series for tips on how to process your deer and cook a delicious meal.
  4. Safely dispose of deer carcass waste. There are several options available to safely and legally dispose of deer carcass waste.
  5. Commemorate your first harvest. If you or a friend or family member celebrated their first deer harvest this year, request a personalized First Deer Certificate!

Harvest statistics

Wisconsin Deer Metrics System: harvest and population data, deer health information and deer impact measurements

Wisconsin Big Game and Turkey Harvest Summary [PDF]

Current harvest data: this season's deer harvest, updated weekly throughout the hunting season

Weapon Use by Wisconsin Deer Hunters 2014-2017 [PDF]

Wisconsin wildlife reports: harvest data, hunter opinion surveys and wildlife population survey results from the last two years

Chronology of deer hunting in Wisconsin [PDF]

For more on deer population trends and statistics, visit the deer management page.

Wondering how deer seasons are set and want to get involved?

Click here to learn more.