Deer Season Forecast

2014 Deer Hunting Season in Wisconsin 

Hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites and visiting non-residents eagerly await the arrival of the 2014 nine-day gun deer season, which runs from Nov. 22 to Nov. 30. To help prepare hunters for the 2014 Wisconsin deer hunting season, the Department of Natural Resources shares a season forecast, and tips for a successful hunt.

Nearly 10 percent of Wisconsin residents will take to the field for the annual hunt, along with thousands more who will participate by providing food, hotels, and other services. Deer hunting is such an important part of the Wisconsin culture and economy,” said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist. “It’s a tradition that many hunters and businesses look forward to all year long. We want to do our part to make sure the hunt is as fun, successful and safe as possible.”

The information is provided by DNR big game ecologist, Kevin Wallenfang, and the Wisconsin DNR. Download the full 2014 Fall Hunting & Trapping Forecast for more information.

Gun Deer Season Opener

Instead of a very early opener, we have a late opener which could see reduced rutting activity. With our late spring, there may also be a decent amount of corn still standing at this time that will provide cover for deer. Another thing to consider is that it isn’t looking like we’ll have snow anywhere in the state for opening day which may mean deer are more difficult to see.

Deer Population in Wisconsin

A late spring in 2014 resulted in a delayed green-up and may compound the stress caused by severe winter conditions. Hunters should expect to see fewer fawns during this fall’s hunt. Antler development will likely be reduced and may be especially poor in yearling bucks. Modest increases in buck harvest are projected this fall in most of the Northeast District. However, recognizing that two severe winters in a row will affect fawn production, antlerless harvest has been severely restricted in the Northern Forest zone this fall.  The Southern District deer herd will continue to see great variation in 2014 relating to the number of deer on the landscape. Many areas within the district will offer hunters an increased opportunity to see and harvest deer, while other areas have seen stable or slightly-less deer numbers than in previous years. Generally speaking, deer in the West Central District’s Farmland zones are doing well - hunters can expect to see deer numbers comparable to 2013 or better.  Counties within the Central Farmland and Southern Farmland zones hold abundant deer populations, and hunters will find great opportunities to put some meat in the freezer this fall if they are able to spend time scouting. 

Public Land in Wisconsin

Hunters who traditionally hunt on public land, especially in county forests, are encouraged to purchase bonus antlerless tags early.  With a new public-private land permit system, bonus tags have been significantly reduced for public lands in Eau Claire and Chippewa counties, and they may sell out before the start of the gun deer season.  Permit levels were lowered in response to public concerns that deer have been overharvested on county forest properties.

Fortunately, Wisconsin has over 1 million acres of private lands open for public hunting in addition to millions more made up by state, national, and county forests. A recent DNR news release summarizes key ways to locate lands open to the public in Wisconsin.

Tips for a Successful Hunt

Even with increasing deer populations in many units, hunter success during the gun season can vary based on a wide range of factors. Hunter effort, weather events, rut activity, hunting pressure, and stand site locations in addition to deer numbers can all play influential roles in whether or not individual hunters see and harvest deer. Deer are not distributed evenly across the landscape and their movements vary greatly from one day to the next. Some hunters simply have access to better hunting and more deer. While some hunters will see lots of deer, their neighbor may struggle to even see deer for a variety of reason.

Another step hunters can take to increase their opportunities and enjoy their season is to take advantage of more days in the field.  There has been an increasing trend of hunters spending fewer days in the woods than in years past, often hunting just the opening weekend. Although deer sightings can be fewer after opening weekend, there are still deer to be hunted and the later part of the season can be more relaxing than the high pressure of opening weekend.

“It looks like we’ll have some comfortable hunting conditions that will allow people to stay in the woods and enjoy the hunt longer,” Wallenfang said. “We wish all hunters a very safe and enjoyable hunt”.

Visit the Department of Natural Resources website for more information on planning a successful hunt.

This entry was posted in Things to Do, Outdoor Fun, Hunting and tagged Features and Profiles