Using humor to calm deer hunting tension

Deer hunters, and those indirectly connected with this nine-day outdoors extravaganza, sometimes get too serious and tense about the episode and fail to have fun and relax during the season, which ends Sunday, Dec. 1.
Looking at the season, rules, regulations, disappointments, missed opportunities and turf tussles in a not-so-serious vane may bring about a more pleasant moment carrying throughout the season and beyond.
Putting words in a deer’s or hunter’s mouth in a photo cartoon is one way to introduce this feat. Just trying humor may help, too.
Instead of sketching a cartoon, there are dozens of real situations coming forth from time in a blind, tree stand or occupying a cold stump.
Many deer actions are poorly understood, but this time hunters have a chance to speak for the animal in a light vein.

Look on the lighter side now and then, even during activities that can at times be dangerous, tense and test one’s patience.
Be safe outdoors and take time to slow down, smell the fresh air of decomposing leaves and do something good for someone else who may be having a not-so-fine-day.

Season Snippet:  In 1951, a deer license and tag cost $2.50.

Jerry Davis writes daily DeerTrails 11 times during the nine-day, gun deer season. This is the ninth column. You may contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 608-924-1112.

Thanksgiving dinner: venison or turkey?

Looking to take a break from hunting deer?

Wisconsin’s wild turkey season remains open during the gun deer season, and beyond, closing Jan. 5, 2020 in zones 1-5. The other turkey hunting zones, 6 and 7, closed Nov. 22.

Tales of a first Thanksgiving often mentioned venison and wild turkey meat being prepared. Both animal species were certainly abundant then as now.

With the proper license, authorization, stamp, gun, or bow, deer hunters, and others, can pursue turkeys, but NOT with a rifle. Of course, blaze orange clothing also must be worn.

All turkeys are legal game during fall with a turkey hunting license, stamp and authorization.   

Archers, crossbowers, and gun deer hunters often comment on seeing turkeys and other game, particularly from a tree stand or while stump sitting. Taking away that hunter’s rifle and providing a shotgun, heavy shot, turkey license and authorizations most hunters would be good to go. Maybe a few turkey calls, if wanted, too.  

Fall turkey hunting is somewhat different than the spring season. Both males and females are legal birds. Young and older turkeys are legal, too. In many zones additional authorizations can be purchased, even now. Additional meat might be handy if there is a large gathering coming across the river and through the woods.

Large groups of turkeys are called rafts, or rafters. Deer come in herds, elk in gangs.

Like venison, sometimes the young birds are better eating than the large, old toms or mature hens.  

Calling works, sometimes. Decoying might, too. But a tried-and-true, sit-and-wait method is what got us to this point of considering turkey hunting in the first place.

The worst thing that may happen is a deer would walk past the hunting blind or stand and you’ll be anxious to get back to deer hunting.

Season Snippet: Backtags were required while hunting deer started in 1942 and discontinued in 2015. In 1967, turkey hunting backtags were issued as part of the turkey hunting license packet.

Jerry Davis writes daily DeerTrails 11 times during the nine-day, gun deer season.  This is the eighth column.  You may contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 608-924-1112.


Deer Trails 7: Feel safer, be safer with blaze orange


 Clothing colors worn by deer hunters has a history of successes, and a few failures. In addition, some rules are regularly disregarded, such as wearing a cap that isn't at least partially blaze orange.
 In 1945, red clothing was deemed required outerwear for gun deer hunters. While the clothing need not be solid-color, at least 50 percent had to be red on all items above the waist, including the cap. Caps need not be worn, but if worn were to be red.
 Blaze orange clothing (also known by other names) was introduced as a substitute in 1951 and then replaced red entirely in 1980.
 Other hunters are sometimes required to wear blaze orange, too, including anyone hunting (waterfowlers are exempt) small game, turkey, pheasant, squirrels, rabbits, and archers if there is any gun deer season in progress in that part of the state. That would include a pheasant hunter during the gun deer season and even an archer or crossbower.
 There are several special deer seasons throughout autumn, too, which require other hunters to wear blaze orange. The state-wide, two-day youth deer hunt is one such activity.
 Hikers, bikers, runners, pets, farmers and woodland workers often wear some blaze orange or bright clothing, even though they are not required to do so. Orange is strongly advised, but not required, in state parks, state forests and other public lands during recreation. Another color, fluorescent pink, has been approved as an alternate to blaze orange, although some still believe it is a poor substitute color.
 Deer hunters using blinds must have a 144-inch square of solid blaze orange or fluorescent pink material visible outside their blinds from all directions. The persons hunting and inside the blind must be wearing blaze orange, too.
 Those not hunting, but recreating outside, commonly purchase vests instead of heavier outer clothing to save money while purchasing an article they wear infrequently.
 While snow cover greatly increases visibility of hunters, recreationists and animals, it does not lessen the need for wearing highly visible clothing. That’s where the phrases sighting and safety snow come into play and have pretty much replaced “tracking snow.”

 Season Snippet: In 1947, surveys of deer damage to forest reproduction areas was begun.

 Jerry Davis writes daily Deer Trails 11 times during the nine-day, gun deer season. This is the seventh column. You may contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 608-924-1112.

Sure-Shot Florence bags buck at age 104

MADISON, Wis. - Don't tell Florence Teeters she's too old to enjoy Wisconsin's great outdoors as a gun deer hunter, along with zip-lining, going to Mardi Gras in Louisiana every year and tending to a garden in her bare feet.
Yes, Florence is 104, but who's counting. She sure isn't.
Mrs. Teeters, a mother of five, got the idea to get her first hunting license for this year's gun deer season while sitting in the blind on her land in Price County with her son Bill during last year's gun deer season.
"Yes, it was her idea to get the license. And, yes, that was her first license," son Bill Teeters said. "Make that mom's first gun deer license - ever."
So, Mrs. Teeters got a lift to the Ball Petroleum gas station in Phillips to get that license. Wearing a sporty hunter-red plaid day-coat purchased by her daughter, Mrs. Teeters looked tip-top to take on the season. No one knew just how ready she was.
Two Wisconsin DNR conservation wardens - Joe Paul and Nick Hefter - were nearby and were thrilled to pose with the first-time buyer.
"I thought it was fantastic," warden Paul said.
Little did they know, Mrs. Teeters was going to bag her first buck on the opening day of the 9-day gun deer season on her land in Price County.
"This speaks to the adage that you should never underestimate the power of our senior citizens. After raising a family of hunters, this young lady chose this opportunity to partake in Wisconsin's long-established tradition of deer hunting. We join the rest of Wisconsinites in celebrating her outstanding accomplishment," said DNR Secretary-designee Preston D. Cole. "On behalf of the DNR, we thank Mrs. Teeters for her participation in this year's annual gun deer hunt and for helping keep Wisconsin's hunting heritage alive. This proves that Wisconsin's gun deer hunting season is for every generation."
Bill set up the blind, complete with a comfortable chair for his mother. They chatted about family stuff - and waited and watched. Not quite two hours into their wait, the spike buck appeared.
"I tapped her on her knee, and I pointed," Bill said.
Mrs. Teeters smiled and nodded that she saw what her son saw. She waited, and when the time was right - she shot and got her first buck.
"She was so excited and saying, 'I got a buck! I got a buck!,'" Bill said.
Florence got her buck and likely inspired a whole lot of other first-time hunters to get out and give it a try. According to the DNR Go Wild database, preliminary data shows Florence Teeters is the oldest person to date to purchase a gun deer license and harvest a deer.
If you ever see Florence Teeters out and about, get out of her way, and you'll be fine. She's a mover!

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Preliminary deer harvest totals, license sales available

MADISON, Wis. - More than half a million hunters purchased licenses to enjoy opening weekend of Wisconsin's 168th gun deer season.

Preliminary License Sales Data
As of midnight Sunday, Nov. 24, preliminary figures indicate that the number of deer hunters in Wisconsin is near par with last year.
Sales for gun, bow, crossbow, sports and patron licenses reached 782,815 as of midnight Sunday. Of that total, 555,227 were for gun privileges only. This number includes gun, patron and sports licenses.
Of the total licenses sold, 46.7% were sold online, and 53.3% were sold by DNR license agents, which includes private businesses across the state. Final license sales figures will be available in January, at which time DNR staff will perform a thorough analysis and interpretation.
"The DNR's Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation program continues to grow, bringing in new hunters and inspiring experienced hunters to stay in the game," said Keith Warnke, DNR Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation coordinator. "With the full support of our partners, DNR will be able to maintain our hunting and angling tradition."

Preliminary Registration Totals and Future Outlook
In total, 90,286 deer were harvested by gun and registered statewide during the opening weekend of the gun deer hunt in 2019, compared to 123,090 in 2018.
A total of 46,866 bucks were registered on opening weekend, compared to 67,636 in 2018.
Hunter reports of deer activity varied around the state and within regions. Some reported excellent deer activity while others reported very little, including in areas where deer abundance is known to be high. Reports of rutting activity were far less common compared to last year, which was expected with the latest possible gun season opening date.
"In 2018, we held the earliest possible deer season followed by the latest possible season in 2019. This occurred between the 2012-13 and 2007-08 seasons as well, and we saw similar declines in opening weekend registration totals," said DNR big game ecologist Kevin Wallenfang.
With temperatures staying low and snow coming to many parts of the state mid-week, hunters can expect more opportunities for success and are encouraged to head out to enjoy the remainder of the nine-day season hunting with family and friends.
A more detailed summary of preliminary registration totals can be found on the DNR website.
Pictures and stories from all over Wisconsin continue to flood in as hunters share their experiences. Be sure to follow the DNR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share your experience and for more updates, photos and stories throughout the gun deer season.
Regional and statewide contacts regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin are:
* Statewide - Kevin Wallenfang, Department of Natural Resources big game ecologist, 608-206-1107.
* Northern Wisconsin - Marc Kenyon, DNR wildlife management supervisor, 715-697-3235.
* Northeastern Wisconsin - Jeff Pritzl, DNR wildlife management supervisor, 920-366-3450.
* West-central Wisconsin - Kris Johansen, DNR wildlife management supervisor, 608-396-1062.
* Southern Wisconsin - Bret Owsley, DNR wildlife management supervisor, 920-210-2451.

Registration of Deer Required with GameReg
As a reminder, hunters are required to register their deer by 5 p.m. the day after recovery. For more information, visit the DNR website.
"The registration process is critical to the management of Wisconsin's deer herd, so hunters who forgot to register their deer are encouraged to complete this process, even if they do so beyond the 5 p.m. deadline," said Wallenfang. "Knowing life is busy, the best practice is to register your harvest immediately so that you do not forget. Some hunters are completing the registration while still in the field, which works great."

Opening Weekend Hunting Incidents
As of the publication time of this news release, the DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement reports four firearm-involved hunting incidents during the opening weekend.
Three of the four incidents occurred on Saturday, Nov. 23, in Oneida, Marathon and Fond du Lac counties.
In Oneida and Marathon counties, the two separate incidents involved hunters who discharged their firearms, striking their left feet. The Oneida County incident involved a 38-year-old man whose discharge struck his left foot and a 29-year-old woman in Marathon County whose discharge struck her left foot.
In Fond du Lac County, a hunter shot toward a running deer and struck a 19-year-old woman in the left hand.
The fourth weekend incident occurred in Washburn County on Sunday, Nov. 24, when a 31-year-old man was struck by a single bullet. The shooter has been identified. The investigation continues, and no additional details are being released at this time.
Wisconsin's 10-year average is approximately three hunting incidents for the opening weekend of the nine-day gun deer hunt. The trending decline in incidents over time is the direct result of hunter safety education given by thousands of Wisconsin's volunteer instructors across the state and hunters knowing and following TABK. As part of this push for safe hunting, wardens remind all hunters to use the four firearm safety rules as a cornerstone for safe and successful outings:
* T - Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
* A - Always point the muzzle in a safe direction;
* B - Be certain of your target, what is in front of it and what is beyond it.
* K - Keep your finger outside your trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.
To learn more about safe hunting in Wisconsin, visit the DNR website.
DNR VIOLATION HOTLINE: Anyone with information regarding natural resource violations may confidentially report by calling or texting VIOLATION HOTLINE at 1-800-TIP-WDNR or 1-800-847-9367. The hotline is in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Trained staff relay the information to conservation wardens. An online report form is available.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Deer Trails 6: Midweek musings; deer season continues


Hunters, and those working with hunters during opening weekend, could not stop talking about the weather from a hunter’s comfort standpoint.  
Coupled with the end of the rut, deer in many parts were putting on minimal miles. Hunters generally didn’t feel the need to walk around and disturb wildlife, warm up, or even get inside to have a bite to eat.
As is commonly the case, DNR administrative wardens, including Todd Schaller, chief warden, were assigned to work with field wardens to add more staff and sometimes provide an assistant to greet hunters or address citizen complaints.
This gun season Schaller was in northeast Wisconsin on Saturday and Sunday, before returning to the office to work on reports at season’s end.
As calls came in from around the state, Schaller noted three incidents were reported, none fatal.  
“One was in Marquette County, one in Oneida County and the other in Fond du Lac County," he said. "Two were self-inflicted injuries and the other one the shooter and victim were in the same hunting party.”     
At least one more incident came in the following day.Hunting pressure in the areas where Schaller patrolled was relatively heavy, but not crowded even on public lands.
Some field wardens, including Mike Burns, new to Lafayette County, reported fairly light hunting pressure, as did some in Iowa and Dane County.  
Fred Casper, of Westby, the DNR’s 2018 winner of the hunter ethics award, co-sponsored by Vortex Optics of Barneveld, reported light hunting and shooting in Vernon County, his home turf.
Matt Groppi, Jackson County field warden and part of the La Crosse Team, reported lots of hunters out, most well prepared, behaving, and well-versed on the rules and regulations.
Burns made a few minor citations and warnings, too, but generally spoke highly of hunters throughout his new station.
Hunters commented on the number of bald eagles as though the birds understood that with gun deer season comes field dressing and entrails left in the woods.
As a recommendation to one another, these hunters wished all hunters would move away from lead bullets and go to some type of non-lead alternative to help reduce the risk of lead exposure from venison. There is currently no evidence linking human consumption of venison to lead poisoning.
The story is quite different for eagles, however, since they are scavenger birds and consume venison including deer shot, not recovered or parts of carcasses. See page 29 in the Wisconsin DNR deer regulations pamphlet for more information.In general, archery deer and deer killed by vehicles should be free of lead.
Weather, regardless of the final deer harvest tally after the season, is likely to have made a major impact on the numbers, regardless of increases or decreases compared to last year.
The weather forecast predicts the bottom will be falling out of the bluebird days by midweek, taking away one pleasantry for the 2019 season.

Season Snippet: Surveys taken in 1929 by wardens and sportsmen revealed 20 counties as having no deer, including Dane, Green, Lafayette, La Crosse and Buffalo, while Sauk, Monroe, Columbia and Richland were estimated having about 100 deer each.

Jerry Davis writes daily Deer Trails 11 times during the nine-day, gun deer season. This is the sixth column. You may contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 608-924-1112.

Washburn County hunting incident shooter identified

Madison, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has identified the shooter in the Washburn County gun deer incident on Nov. 24 that injured a hunter.
The shooting victim is hospitalized for treatment and is expected to make a full recovery. The DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement thanks the public for their assistance in the matter.
The DNR originally asked for the public's help on Sunday after a man was shot while deer hunting during the opening weekend of the annual gun deer season, which so far has had four hunting incidents reported.
The shooter's name will not be released at this time. The investigation is ongoing.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR