Anticipation is building across Wisconsin as hunters of all experience levels are preparing to head out afield to take part in the state’s 170th nine-day gun deer season Nov. 20-28.

"The nine-day gun deer season is always an exciting time of the year," said Eric Lobner, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Management Bureau Director. “Hunting is part of the cultural fabric of Wisconsin, and we look forward to another memorable gun deer season that also provides an economic boost to many parts of the state.”

Wisconsin is a nationally-recognized state for hunting white tailed deer with an abundant herd and a proven reputation for producing some of the largest bucks in the world. In Wisconsin, you can pursue whatever experience suits you thanks to the over seven million acres of land open for public hunting across a diverse range of habitats.

“Not only is the season a great time to get together with family and friends to enjoy time outdoors, it is also a time when many people put a low-fat protein source in their freezer that feeds their family throughout the year,” Lobner said. “We wish every hunter a safe and successful season.”

2021 Deer Hunting Forecast Information

As hunters begin the final countdown to the nine-day gun deer season opener, the DNR offers a few deer hunting forecast details to help prepare:

  • It’s been a relatively dry year and crop harvest is on or ahead of schedule. Access in low lying areas should not be hampered by flooding. However, unfrozen conditions in much of the state may limit access in the some of the wetter areas.

  • Deer numbers are trending upward in much of the state. Deer numbers are high throughout the Farmland Zones, with a lot of antlerless harvest opportunities in many Farmland Deer Management Units. Additional antlerless deer harvest supports a healthier herd.

  • The state experienced a very mild winter, which usually leads to better fawn numbers and antler growth.

  • There are no buck-only units this year. Antlerless harvest quotas in the Northern Forest were increased by 40% overall. However, some northern counties with limited antlerless permits have sold out.

Hunters will have a different experience based on where in the state they hunt, whether they are hunting public or private land, forest or farmland, hunting pressure and many other factors.

Check out the 2021 deer hunting forecast here.

Bonus Authorizations Still Available

Bonus antlerless harvest authorizations remain available in many counties. Bonus antlerless harvest authorizations may be filled with any weapon type but must be filled in the zone, county and land type (public or private) designated on each harvest authorization.

Bonus antlerless harvest authorizations are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the cost of $12 each for residents, $20 each for non-residents and $5 each for youth hunters under age 12.

In 2021, additional Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless harvest authorizations may be included with each deer hunting license, depending on the county of choice. Hunters who have not yet purchased a license for hunting deer will be prompted to select the county and land type for the Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless harvest authorizations at the point of sale.

Licenses may be purchased through Go Wild, the DNR’s online license and registration portal, or at any of the more than 1,000 license sales agent locations. As a reminder, most DNR service centers remain temporarily closed to the public. To find service centers currently open for in-person service visit the DNR’s Service Center Locations webpage.

Hunters who purchased their deer hunting licenses earlier in the year may now select their Farmland (Zone 2) harvest authorizations. When ready, hunters may make a harvest authorization selection online from their Go Wild account to print themselves or visit a licensed agent (this will require a $2 processing fee).


All harvested deer must be registered electronically by 5 p.m. the day after the deer is recovered. GameReg is simple, fast and convenient for hunters. The system will prompt hunters to answer a series of questions. A unique harvest authorization number is required.

Registering a harvest is a critical component to assisting the DNR with deer management in Wisconsin.

Hunters have four options to register their deer:

Registering a harvest is a critical component to assisting the DNR with deer management in Wisconsin.

“Proper registration provides accurate harvest data for DNR wildlife managers and County Deer Advisory Councils for the management of deer in Wisconsin,” said Jeff Pritzl, DNR Deer Biologist.

Visit the DNR’s Gamereg Electronic Game Registration webpage for more information.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages hunters to donate Wisconsin-harvested deer to the department’s Deer Donation Program to help stock food pantries this holiday season and support residents in need throughout the state.

Since the program began in 2000, hunters have donated over 94,000 deer, totaling more than 3.8 million pounds of venison distributed to Wisconsin food pantries.

Through the Deer Donation Program, the DNR works with partnering meat processors to distribute thousands of pounds of donated venison to Wisconsin food pantries.

“Whether by harvesting an extra deer or donating the only deer they shoot, Wisconsin hunters have the chance to support their communities during the holiday season,” said Sarah Wyrick, DNR Wildlife Damage Program Assistant. “We thank all deer hunters, meat processing and nonprofit partners who help make this program a success for those in need.”

Those looking to support the Deer Donation Program can also do so through a monetary donation when purchasing a hunting or fishing license or a Wisconsin State Park pass.  

Food Insecurity In Wisconsin

Approximately one in 12 Wisconsin households did not have enough food before the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, and research shows this number continues to rise, according to the University of Wisconsin’s Food Security Project.

Additionally, the Wisconsin Food Security Projects reports that food insecurity makes it harder for children to thrive in and out of school, increases the risk of health problems for children and adults, makes it more difficult to manage chronic conditions, and contributes to short-term and long-term stress for children and families.

How To Donate Wisconsin-Harvested Deer

Hunters interested in donating a Wisconsin-harvested deer to the DNR’s Deer Donation Program can follow these steps:

  1. Field dress your deer. Handle the carcass with care.

  2. Register your deer through Game Reg. Make a note of your registration confirmation number and keep it on hand when dropping off your deer.

  3. Test your deer for CWD if harvested from a CWD-affected county that requires testing before taking the deer to a processor. To find a CWD sampling location near you to submit samples from Wisconsin-harvested deer free of charge, visit the DNR’s “Sampling For Chronic Wasting Disease” webpage. Test results are usually available from the DNR within two weeks.

  4. Call ahead! Contact one of the participating processors before dropping off your deer to make sure they have space to accept it. More processors may be added later in the season, so check back if you don’t see one currently in your area.

    If donating a Wisconsin-harvested deer that is being tested for CWD, inform the processor at the time of the donation and provide your CWD barcode number. The processor will hold onto the donated deer until results are known and before distributing to an area nonprofit. 

  5. Drop off your deer at a participating processor.

Visit the DNR’s Deer Donation Program webpage to learn more.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking waterfowl hunters to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species this fall.

Invasive species are nonnative plants, animals and diseases that cause great ecological, environmental or economic harm. Some have already been found in Wisconsin, while others pose a large risk of surviving and causing problems if they are introduced and become established here.

Just a few minutes of preventative action can help preserve and protect hunting lands for generations to come. Before launching into and leaving a waterbody, waterfowl hunters should:

  • Inspect waders, boats, trailers, motors and hunting equipment, including boots, blinds and dogs

  • Remove all plants, animals and mud to the best of their ability

  • Drain all water from decoys, boats, motors, livewells and other hunting equipment

  • Remove all seed heads and roots when using vegetation for duck blinds

  • Never move plants or live animals, such as snails, away from a water body


In addition, the DNR and UW Madison Extension AIS Program often team up with the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association, Ducks Unlimited and other partners to place boot brush stations at access points near lake and river launches as well as some walk-in sites. If you are an organization interested in building and setting up your own boot brush stations, please contact DNRAISinfo@wisconsin.gov for more information.

Thank you to every hunter who follows the recommended prevention steps. Doing so before you leave the boat launch is keeping your favorite hunting spot safe and accessible for years to come.

For more information about aquatic invasive species, including where they are prohibited and restricted in Wisconsin, visit this DNR webpage.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced the formation of a committee to review the state’s chronic wasting disease (CWD) response plan.

In 2010, the Natural Resources Board (NRB) approved the 15-year CWD response plan through 2025, guiding the DNR’s approach to addressing CWD in Wisconsin. In following the plan, the DNR will review its progress toward meeting the plan’s goals and objectives every five years.

This fall, the department will convene a group of stakeholders to provide input on the plan’s implementation and actions to consider as it completes this second five-year review.

Stakeholders from conservation, business and hunting organizations and tribal governments have been invited to join the committee. Meetings will begin this fall to conduct a full and transparent review. A panel of technical experts will attend meetings to support the committee’s work. All meetings will be open to the public, and recordings will be posted to the DNR website.

Once the committee completes its review, expected in early 2022, the department will consider its input alongside public comment. The DNR expects to present the review’s findings to the NRB in late spring 2022.

More information on chronic wasting disease is available by visiting the DNR webpage here. For more information on the DNR’s CWD response plan, visit the webpage here.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced the 2021 combined Wisconsin Hunting Regulations pamphlet is now available online and will soon be available at license agents and open service centers around the state.

For the second year, the combined regulations pamphlet brings season dates, shooting hours and regulations together in one convenient document.

Early teal and early goose seasons kick off the 2021 hunting season on Sept. 1. There is no longer a Mississippi River duck zone. Instead, the DNR has added an Open Water zone on Lake Michigan. After a multi-year effort by sporting groups to raise the fee and increase crucial funding for waterfowl habitat conservation and restoration, waterfowl stamp fees have changed this season.

Deer hunters throughout the state will have their first opportunity to enjoy the woods with the opening of the 2021 archery and crossbow deer seasons, which run concurrently statewide from Sept. 18 to Jan. 9, 2022. The archery and crossbow seasons are extended to Jan. 31, 2022 in metro sub-units and many counties will offer the antlerless-only holiday hunt between the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Bonus antlerless deer harvest authorizations are still available in almost all counties. Check the DNR website for availability.

The 2021 deer season schedule is as follows:

  • Gun Hunt For Hunters With Disabilities: Oct. 2-10, 2021

  • Youth Deer Hunt: Oct. 9-10, 2021

  • Gun Deer Hunt: Nov. 20-28, 2021

  • Muzzleloader: Nov. 29-Dec. 8, 2021

  • Statewide Antlerless Hunt: Dec. 9-12, 2021

  • Farmland Zone Holiday Hunt: Dec. 24, 2021-Jan. 1, 2022

New this year, updated bear zones will be in effect, approved as part of the 2019-2029 Wisconsin Black Bear Management Plan. Those pursuing bear this season should familiarize themselves with zone boundaries and hunting dates. Bear baiting regulations are also newly updated and detailed on page 23 of the 2021 Wisconsin Hunting Regulations.

Trapping and wolf harvest season regulations will be published as separate documents and available in print and on the DNR website. As in previous years, the hunting regulations pamphlet summarizes Wisconsin’s hunting laws most relevant to hunters. For additional hunting and trapping laws, consult Wisconsin State Statutes chapter 29 or consult chapter 10 of the Administrative Code of the DNR.

For more information on hunting in Wisconsin, visit the DNR Hunting webpage.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds hunters that the Hunt Wild Wisconsin mobile app is loaded with everything you need in the field.

From property boundaries to shooting hours and deer carcass disposal locations, users can find new public lands to explore, brush up on the regulations or listen to podcasts all with Hunt Wild Wisconsin. With mobile mapping, up to the minute shooting hours and much more, the DNR is giving hunters all the tools to focus on what's important - enjoying time in the outdoors.

"The Hunt Wild Wisconsin app has proven itself to be a valuable resource for hunters since we launched in 2018. We’re constantly tweaking the app to keep it up-to-date for customers with more of the features they want to see,” said Eric Lobner, DNR Wildlife Management Program Director. “Back this year is the in-app CWD sampling and deer carcass disposal location lookup as well as mapping improvements. The 2021 combined hunting regulations are loaded in and ready to go to kick off the fall seasons.”

What hasn’t changed are all the features that drew hunters to Hunt Wild Wisconsin in the first place, like up-to-the-minute shooting hours, species-specific mobile mapping and price – it’s free.

Check out the following app features that will help improve your time in the field:

  • Tailored mapping with hunting zones and prime habitat layers based on the species you’re pursuing so you can zero in on your next hunting spot. You build your experience based on your hunt.

  • Find deer carcass disposal locations inside the app. Knowing your disposal location makes proper carcass handling more convenient so you can protect the herd and keep going with your day.

  • Access your maps (including topographic maps and land boundaries) plus rules, regs and hunting hours with (or without) a cell signal.

  • Tailor the map to your hunt - save your favorite hunting location or feature of interest.

  • Save your trails for those early morning walk-ins.

  • Shooting hours are automatically determined by your location.

  • Easy-to-read summary of regulations, all in one place - everything you need to know, right in the palm of your hand (with or without a cellular connection).

  • Access to your Go Wild account allows you to purchase new hunting licenses, harvest authorizations and permits.

  • Use GameReg in the field to register your harvest with the Hunt Wild Wisconsin app.

For more information about the free app and to watch the app tutorial, visit the DNR website here.

Hunters should always use a full-body harness, also known as a fall-arrest system, when hunting from a treestand. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds those participating in the upcoming deer hunting season to use treestands safely.

According to surveys, one-quarter of bowhunters have experienced a fall or near fall from an elevated stand. However, less than half of Wisconsin deer hunters use a safety harness every time they climb.

Hunters should include harnesses in their routine if they plan to hunt above the ground regardless of hunting with a ladder stand, a tower stand or a hang-on stand. Published research indicates risky climbing behavior can catch up with hunters the longer they hunt.

Hunters should always use a full-body harness, also known as a fall-arrest system. Hunters should also follow the basic rules of treestand safety:

  • Connect your harness to your tether line and keep your tether line short.

  • Always have three points of contact while climbing into and out of the treestand: Two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand at all times.

  • Always use a haul line to raise and lower your unloaded firearm or bow into and out of the stand. You can also use a separate haul line for other things, like a heavy backpack.

  • Use a lifeline when climbing up and down. The lifeline keeps you connected from the time you leave the ground to when you get back down.

  • Be sure to let someone know where you'll be hunting and when you expect to return.

  • Carry a cell phone to call for help if you are injured after a fall.

Hunters should use situational awareness in addition to following the basic rules of treestand safety. Always select a tree that is substantial enough to support your weight. Check your equipment before use, making certain lines are intact, your harness fits and is absent of snags and tears that could jeopardize the functionality. Also, be sure to inspect your stand to ensure it does not have any missing components or broken features.

Ahead of the fall season, hunters are also encouraged to participate in the Treestand Manufacturers Association Safety Course, a free interactive course that takes 15 minutes to complete.

To learn more about treestand safety, visit the DNR Treestand Safety webpage.