CWD sampling, deer carcass waste disposal options still available

MADISON, Wis. - With deer hunting season still underway, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters that plenty of opportunities remain to have harvested deer sampled for chronic wasting disease.
CWD sampling is especially important in areas of the state with an enhanced CWD sampling focus. The participation of hunters, volunteers, cooperators and businesses is crucial to successful CWD sampling efforts, and DNR staff want to thank everyone who continues to assist with CWD surveillance efforts.
Options for CWD sampling include both self-service kiosks as well as in-person service through a participating cooperator. Self-service kiosks are available 24/7 and have all supplies necessary for hunters to drop off a deer head to be sampled. If visiting staffed sampling stations, hunters should contact the station in advance to verify hours of operation. Sampling is also available by appointment with DNR staff.
A sample consists of the deer head with 3-5 inches of neck attached. Hunters also need to have their harvest authorization number, harvest location and contact information when submitting a sample. There is no cost to the hunter to have a deer tested for CWD, and results are typically available within 10-14 days.
Some carcass disposal options will still be available through the end of the deer season. Check the CWD sampling and carcass disposal map often as location information may change between now and the end of the season. Hunters can also find carcass disposal locations in the Hunt Wild mobile app and online in a searchable online database.
Hunters are also reminded to check out the latest Wild Wisconsin: Off the Record podcasts to learn more about CWD monitoring and research in Wisconsin. The podcast is available on iTunes, Stitcher and YouTube. Season two of the Wild Wisconsin web series will also feature a segment highlighting CWD in Wisconsin.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Holiday pheasant hunt scheduled Dec. 18

MADISON, Wis. - The Department of Natural Resources staff is stocking 2,260 pheasants on eight properties in southern Wisconsin during the week of Dec. 18, giving upland hunters more opportunities to pursue game birds with friends and family during the holiday season.
Late-season stocking began in 2017, and its popularity with hunters led to its expansion in 2018, thanks to the new hatchery facility. A similar number of pheasants will be released in 2019 as in 2018.
Properties to be stocked before the holiday season include:
* Mud Lake Wildlife Area, Columbia County.
* Mazomanie Unit of Lower Wisconsin State Riverway, Dane County.
* Richard Bong State Recreation Area, Kenosha County.
* Brooklyn Wildlife Area, Dane & Green counties.
* Avon Bottoms Wildlife Area, Rock County.
* Waterloo Wildlife Area, Jefferson County.
* Sauk Prairie Recreational Area, Sauk County.
* Vernon Wildlife Area, Waukesha County.
"We selected properties with suitable cover for pheasant hunting near population centers," said DNR upland wildlife ecologist Mark Witecha. "The department hopes this late-season stocking will provide an opportunity to get out and enjoy the outdoors with family and friends and perhaps add some additional table fare to your holiday meal."
As a reminder, quality pheasant hunting opportunities exist throughout much of Wisconsin, including wild pheasant hunting where suitable habitat exists as well as on previously stocked public lands. The pheasant season runs through Jan. 5, 2020. All hunting regulations and bag limits apply through the season close. See the 2019 Small Game Regulations for more information.

Hunters are reminded to practice TABK while afield:
* 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 the trigger guard until ready to shoot.
In addition, hunters are encouraged to wear blaze orange while upland bird hunting to increase visibility with other hunters.
For more information regarding pheasant hunting in Wisconsin, visit the DNR website.

Where to Hunt
Hunters can use FFLIGHT, the DNR's gamebird mapping application, to locate and explore properties stocked with pheasants, as well as ruffed grouse and woodcock habitat and managed dove fields. FFLIGHT allows hunters to use aerial maps, topography and measuring tools to easily navigate and identify areas of interest and make their trips more productive and enjoyable.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Black bear, spring turkey applications due Dec. 10

MADISON, Wis. - Black bear and wild turkey hunters are reminded to submit their applications for the 2020 season permit drawings before midnight on Dec. 10.
Applications for permit drawings can be purchased through Go Wild or an authorized license agent.

2020 black bear
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff and the Bear Advisory Committee are currently in the process of determining 2020 harvest quotas. Harvest numbers from the 2019 black bear season are not yet finalized, but preliminary estimates show that hunters harvested more than 3,600 bears.
Bear hunters are reminded that due to the high interest in this hunt, hunters must apply for several years before receiving a permit through the drawing process for most bear management zones. For bear permit applicants to retain their accumulated preference points, they must apply at least once during any period of three consecutive years, or all previously accumulated preference points will be lost.
If the hunter is selected in the drawing, their preference points will be reset to zero, even if they do not purchase the harvest permit. It is the applicant's responsibility to be aware of drawing status. Applicants selected in the drawing will be notified by mail shortly after the drawing and may purchase their 2020 Class A bear license beginning in March 2020. Applicants may also check their status online through their Go Wild customer account.
The season structure for the 2020 bear hunt is as follows:
Zone C (dogs not permitted).
* Sept. 9 to Oct. 13 - with the aid of bait and all other legal methods not using dogs.
All other zones:
* Sept. 9-15 - with the aid of bait only.
* Sept. 16 to Oct. 6 - with all legal methods, including bait and dogs.
* Oct. 7-13 - with the aid of dogs, with all other methods not using bait.

2020 spring turkey
Dec. 10 is the deadline to apply for a spring turkey harvest authorization (previously known as a tag or permit).
Turkey harvest authorizations are issued through a preference-based drawing system. For more information on the turkey preference drawing, see the Turkey Frequently Asked Questions.
Applicants may choose up to two time period and zone combinations that they would like to hunt. As a third choice, applicants may choose one zone in which they will accept a harvest authorization for any time period. This third choice can be the same zone as the first and/or second choice. The second and third choices are optional, but applicants are encouraged to provide second and third choices to maximize their likelihood of drawing a harvest authorization.
Successful applicants will be notified by mail after the drawing results are finalized.
Unsuccessful applicants will receive a preference point that will increase their chances of drawing a harvest authorization the following spring season. Hunters can check their application status online through Go Wild.
Any harvest authorizations that were not awarded in the drawing will be available for purchase as bonus harvest authorizations starting March 16. Bonus harvest authorizations will cost $10 for residents and $15 for non-residents.
All turkey hunters are required to possess a valid spring turkey license and Wild Turkey Stamp when they acquire their spring turkey harvest authorization. A 2020 spring turkey license is $15 for Wisconsin residents and $60 for non-residents. The 2020 Wild Turkey Stamp is $5.25.
The 2020 spring turkey season is as follows:
* Youth Hunt - April 11-12.
* Period A - April 15-21.
* Period B - April 22-28.
* Period C - April 29-May 5.
* Period D - May 6-12.
* Period E - May 13-19.
* Period F- May 20-26.
For information on hunting in state parks, visit the DNR website. All harvested turkeys must be registered. For information on how to register your turkey, visit the turkey registration page here.

Youth turkey hunt - April 11-12
The annual Spring Turkey Youth Hunt is designed for hunters ages 15 and younger. Interested youth hunt participants should apply for a spring turkey harvest authorization before the Dec. 10 deadline. A harvest authorization for any time period can be used during the two-day youth hunt, but hunters are limited to the zone listed on their harvest authorization.
Youth hunters must either have a Hunter Education Certificate of Accomplishment or hunt under the Mentored Hunting Program. All hunters under 12 years of age must participate in the Mentored Hunting Program, even if they have completed a hunter safety education course. All other turkey hunting regulations apply to the youth hunt.

Spring wild turkey hunt for people with disabilities
Hunters with disabilities may apply for a harvest authorization outside of the normal spring turkey drawing.
Hunters can apply for the Spring Wild Turkey Hunt for People with Disabilities by submitting Forms 2300-271 and 2300-271A.
This special hunt is only valid on private lands. Forms must be submitted by Dec. 10 to the DNR wildlife biologist for the county in which the hunt will take place. Any applicant who applies for a turkey harvest authorization using Forms 2300-271 and 2300-271A may not apply for a harvest authorization through the general spring turkey drawing.
For more information about bear and turkey hunting in Wisconsin, visit the bear hunting and the turkey hunting pages of the DNR website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Wisconsin's 168th gun deer season gets mixed reviews

MADISON, Wis. - As Wisconsin hunters put another gun deer season in the books, preliminary license sale, harvest registration and hunting incident numbers are now available.
Wisconsin's hunting legacy runs deep, and hunters are encouraged to share their stories from this year's deer hunt - the funny ones, the big buck stories and the stories of the ones that got away. Be sure to follow DNR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share your experience and for more updates, photos and stories.

Preliminary License Sales Totals
In 2019, 564,664 gun deer licenses were sold through the end of the nine-day gun deer season, compared to 576,277 in 2018. This is a 2.02% decrease.
In total, 792,548 gun, archery and crossbow licenses (not including upgrades) have been sold through the end of the nine-day gun deer season, compared to 803,772 in 2018, a 1.40% decrease. Of the licenses sold to date, 54% were sold in person through transactions at DNR license agents, including through DNR offices and agents. The remaining 46% of licenses were purchased online.
Deer hunting license and harvest authorization sales will continue throughout the remaining deer hunting seasons.

Preliminary Registration Totals
Overall, preliminary figures show that 160,769 deer were registered during the nine-day gun deer hunt, compared to 213,972 in 2018. Of the deer harvested in the 2019 nine-day season, 75,236 were antlered compared to 105,315 in 2018. The nine-day hunt also provided successful hunters with 85,533 antlerless deer, a decrease from 108,657 in 2018.
While opening weekend saw mild temperatures throughout the state with some snow in the north, hunting conditions deteriorated throughout the remainder of the season as heavy wind, snow and rain moved through the state. The largest declines in antlered harvest occurred in the northern forest zone, where blizzard-like conditions and significant snow accumulation hindered hunter access.
Reports from hunters around Wisconsin indicated low daytime deer activity throughout the gun deer season.
Hunters afield within even a few miles of each other reported varying levels of deer sightings, confirming that deer are not evenly distributed on the landscape.
Standing corn proved to be an additional factor that likely influenced success in the field. At the conclusion of the nine-day, harvest was 66% complete, 22 days behind the 2018 harvest.
Wisconsin held the earliest possible deer season in 2018 followed this year by the latest possible season opener. When this occurred between the 2012-13 and 2007-07 seasons, there were similar declines in year-to-year registration totals.
Harvest numbers may climb as hunters enjoy additional hunting opportunities:
* Dec. 2-11 - statewide muzzleloader hunt.
* Dec. 12-15 - statewide four-day antlerless-only hunt.
* Dec. 24 to Jan. 1, 2020 - nine-day antlerless-only holiday hunt in select Farmland Zone counties.
* Now - Jan. 5, 2020 - remaining archery and crossbow seasons.
* Jan. 5-31, 2020 - extended archery and crossbow seasons in select Farmland Zone counties.
Hunters may use any unfilled antlerless harvest authorization during any of these hunts, but they must be used in the zone, county and land type designated on the harvest authorization. For more information regarding hunts offered in each county, check out the interactive deer map at, keyword "DMU."

For the nine-day gun deer hunt, the 2019 regional harvest breakdown by Deer Management Zone (with percent change from 2018) included:
Deer Management Zone 2019 Nine-Day Deer Harvested Percent Change from 2018
Northern Forest Zone - 16,051 antlered -39.5%; 10,470 antlerless -36.1%; 26,521 total -38.2%
Central Forest Zone - 2,972 antlered -33.7%; 2,049 antlerless -21.5%; 5,021 total -29.2%
Central Farmland Zone - 39,450 antlered -23.5%; 52,995 antlerless -17.3%; 92,445 total -20.0%
Southern Farmland Zone - 16,763 antlered -26.4%; 20,019 antlerless -21.8%; 36,782 total -23.9%;
Total preliminary harvest registrations - 75,236 antlered -28.6%; 85,533 antlerless -21.3%; 160,769 total -24.9%
Hunters are required to register harvested deer before 5 p.m. the day after recovery at or by calling 1-844-426-3734. Any hunter who failed to follow mandatory registration rules should do so now, despite having missed the deadline.
For more information regarding preliminary registration totals, including county-level numbers, visit and search keywords "weekly totals." A 2018-19 comparison of preliminary nine-day gun deer season registration totalS [pdf] is also available online.

Nine-day Season Hunting Incidents
At the time of this news release, the DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement reports four firearm-involved injuries and zero fatalities for the entire 2019 nine-day gun deer season.
Three of the four incidents occurred on Saturday, Nov. 23, in Oneida, Marathon and Fond du Lac counties:
* In Oneida County, a 38-year-old man suffered a self-inflicted firearm-related injury, striking his left foot.
* In Marathon County, a 29-year-old woman suffered a self-inflicted firearm-related injury, striking her left foot.
* In Fond du Lac County, a hunter shooting toward a running deer struck a 19-year-old woman who was a member of his same hunting group in the left hand.
* In Washburn County, a 31-year-old man was struck by a single bullet from a hunter in a different hunting group. The shooter has been identified. The investigation continues, and no additional details are being released at this time.
Wisconsin's 10-year average for hunting incidents during the nine-day gun deer season is 6.8. The decline in incidents is the direct result of hunter safety education given by Wisconsin's volunteer instructors and conservation wardens.
Hunting is a safe recreational activity, as seen in the downward trend in the number of firearm-related hunting incidents during the popular nine-day gun deer season.
"This is the fourth consecutive nine-day deer gun season without a fatality," said DNR Chief Conservation Warden Todd Schaller. "Four incidents are tied with the lowest on record. This is certainly a tribute to our hunters and volunteer safety education instructors."
To learn more about safe hunting in Wisconsin, search keywords "safety tips."

Hunters Continue to Embrace GameReg
Reports from hunters indicate that going online is the fastest and easiest way to register deer.
The GameReg internet registration system and call-in phone option worked well, while hunters continue to visit walk-in stations that offer these services. Positive feedback was received throughout the season as hunters enjoyed the convenience and flexibility of GameReg.
On Saturday, Nov. 23, an average of 31 registrations were processed per minute, with peak sales exceeding 90 transactions per minute. To date, 68% of harvest registrations were completed online, and 32% were completed via telephone for the 2019 deer hunting seasons.
The accuracy of deer harvest numbers is directly related to the level of hunter compliance. If a hunter forgot to register their deer, they still have time to use GameReg and help ensure each deer harvest is counted. For more information, visit and search keyword "GameReg."

Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey Remains Open
The Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey will remain active until all deer seasons have ended, and wildlife managers ask that hunters submit a report of what they observe during their time in the field.
This information provides valuable data to improve population estimates for Wisconsin's deer herd and other species. For additional information, search keywords "deer hunter wildlife."

First Harvest, First Experience Certificates
Hunters of all ages who head out for their first hunt are encouraged to mark the occasion with a first harvest and first hunting experience certificate. To create a certificate, visit and search keywords "first certificates."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Pheasant hunting a great excuse to get outdoors in December

Late season conditions are shaping up favorably for Minnesota pheasant hunters this December.
“As the season has progressed, we’re getting more reports of hunters seeing and harvesting birds,” said Tim Lyons, upland game research scientist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “In some areas, the season, which ends in just under a month, may just be starting to heat up.”
Wet weather and a late pheasant hatch may have led to a slower than expected start to the hunting season. As hunters are only allowed to harvest roosters, some hunters earlier in the season reported not shooting birds they flushed because the birds were too young to easily identify as roosters or hens. Now, birds that hunters passed on in the early season should be in full plumage.
Delayed harvest of row crops may also have factored into the slow start to the season. But things are looking up, because as harvest has progressed, ring-necks that previously escaped hunting pressure by moving to standing crops are now concentrated in grasslands.
What’s more, cattail sloughs should become more accessible as weather turns colder later in the season and wetlands freeze up. Late-season hunters who are willing to get into tougher-to-reach areas will have opportunities to harvest birds.
Regardless of whether any roosters are in the bag, another bonus of late-season pheasant hunting is getting away from the hustle and bustle of the busy holiday season.
“Pheasant hunting is a great way to stretch your legs and get into the fresh air and sunshine, particularly at a time of year when the days are shorter and many of us spend more time indoors,” Lyons said. “It can be an opportunity to introduce someone new to pheasant hunting.”
Earlier this year, the DNR reported a decline in pheasant numbers from roadside counts. Though some areas of the state are undoubtedly experiencing lower numbers of birds, many hunters are finding success despite the apparent decline in pheasant numbers.
On Dec. 1, the daily bag limit increased to three roosters, with a possession limit of nine roosters.
Hunters need a small game license and a pheasant stamp to hunt pheasants in Minnesota. A small game license costs $22 for Minnesota residents age 18 to 64, and the pheasant stamp costs $7.50. Pheasant hunters 65 and older need to buy a small game license for $13.50 but are not required to buy a stamp. Hunters age 16 to 17 must buy a $5 small game license but do not need to buy a stamp, and hunters under 16 can hunt pheasants without a license or stamp.
Hunters also can purchase a Walk-In Access (WIA) validation for $3 to gain additional public hunting opportunities on private land that is enrolled in the program.
Minnesota’s 2019 pheasant season is open through Wednesday, Jan. 1. Shooting hours are 9 a.m. to sunset. Additional details on pheasant hunting are available on the DNR’s pheasant hunting page.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Deer Trails: State DNR chief warden Schaller’s last hunt


There seems to be an incongruity between Wisconsin’s Law Enforcement Bureau and the nine-day, gun deer season.
Or is there?
Many DNR wardens are attracted to law enforcement because they love to recreate in the out-of-doors. They love to fish, hunt, gather from the forests and much more. But they love just as much to protect Wisconsin’s natural resources.
So they chose a career that involved, in part, protecting Wisconsin’s natural resources and then find themselves having fewer moments to hunt deer during November.
“Before becoming a warden, I was an avid deer hunter, archery and gun, but that didn’t continue, at least not directly after I left the Bangor area for stations in Racine, Trempealeau, Fond du Lac, Oshkosh and finally in Madison, and then accepted the position of Chief Warden,” 31-year law enforcement officer Todd Schaller (pictured) said. “This will be my last deer season as a warden.”
Schaller quickly moved past the hunting part of deer season, but lived within it because he was with people who were recreating as he once did.  
“I was constantly talking to people who had the same interest. I lived deer hunting vicariously through them,” he said.
When hunting deer and being with family during the season was no longer feasible, Schaller recalls calling his father every opening morning and evening to experience some camaraderie he had before becoming a warden.
Schaller has seen many changes in deer populations, deer hunting styles and the evolution of a trophy passion and in some cases a lessening of hunting for sustainability.
“One of my favorite deer season stories while in Racine County was the conviction of an individual who had taken deer illegally and was about to have his license revoked,” Schaller recalled. “The man said he would rather serve time in jail than have his deer hunting privileges revoked. The judge listened and then agreed, sentencing the man to a jail term during the deer season, but didn’t revoke his license.”
Looking ahead toward retirement, Schaller plans to return to a deer stand, but mainly for the chance to experience deer seasons with relatives.
“It’s more about connecting with siblings, than it is about getting a deer,” he said. “There never was pressure to get a deer, but to hunt with family.”

Season Snippet: There was a record 699,275 gun deer licenses sold in 1990.

Jerry Davis writes daily DeerTrails 11 times during the nine-day, gun deer season. This is the last 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: DNR ethical hunter award honors Westby deer hunter


More than two decades ago, in 1997, Jim Olson and Mike Kasten, La Crosse County, were selected and then awarded the first Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources annual ethical hunter award by then DNR warden Steve Dewald, then La Crosse Tribune Outdoors Editor Bob Lamb, and Jerry Davis, a Tribune writer and retired biology professor at UW-La Crosse.
While many award winners were deer hunters, the award can and has been given to persons hunting other species in Wisconsin, too.  Sometimes the winners are out-of-state hunters visiting Wisconsin as a destination location for their favorite game.
Last May, Fred Casper (pictured), of Westby, was awarded the 2018 ethical hunter award. The 2019 winner will be selected and awarded in May 2020, at a ceremony at Vortex Optics, in Barneveld, Wis.  Vortex has been a corporate sponsor of the award for the past four years.
Prior to this year’s deer season, Casper reached out to his neighbors to reaffirm permission to go onto their land should a wounded deer cross a property line.
“We continued our tradition of grilling hamburgers on the truck tailgate at noon,”
Casper said. “Gun season, for me, is more about having fun with the kids and others. That’s what gun season is about, family and traditions.” Casper was selected for working to find an archer who shot but could not retrieve a large white-tailed buck one year ago. Rather than take the decomposed animal’s antlers for himself, he searched and found the hunter and helped convince the landowner to legally pass the antlers to the hunter.
The Onalaska hunters, Olson and Kasten, found a deer carcass that had fallen off a truck opening day in 1996 and tracked down the hunter.
Generally, the award goes to an individual, of any age, who does something for a hunter, often taking time away from their own hunting opportunity.
Several other examples of past winners include a hunter going to great lengths to return lost hunting equipment; a hunter who interrupted his hunt to help a woman who had shot and wounded a deer; and a hunter who rendered aid to a field warden who was being assaulted by an intoxicated person.
The nominator need not be a licensed hunter, and often has not been.
For more information, or to nominate an individual, contact any committee member or WDNR warden or DNR office personnel. DNR chief warden Todd Schaller is also a committee member, in addition to Dewald, Lamb and Davis.

Season Snippet: SAK (sex-age-kill) began being used to estimate deer numbers in 1961.

Jerry Davis writes daily DeerTrails 11 times during the nine-day, gun deer season. This is the 10th 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.