Deer Hunting in Wisconsin

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  • B
  • 1,000,000

    Est. Whitetail Population

  • 830,000

    No. Licenses Sold Annually

  • $24

    Archery and gun licenses are $24.

    Resident hunting license and deer permit

  • $160

    Archery and gun licenses are $160.

    Non-resident hunting license and deer permit

  • 206 1/8"

    Taken by James Jordan in Burnett County in 1914, ranked No. 2 of all time.

    Record B&C Typical Stat

  • 1314

    Total B&C Typical Entries

  • 253"

    Taken by Elmer Gotz in Buffalo County in 1973.

    Record B&C Non-Typical Stat

  • 522

    Record B&C Non-Typical Entries

Season Dates (2020):

Archery and crossbow season is September 12 to January 3, but it runs through January 31 in some units. Youth season is October 10 to 11 and the disabled season runs October 3 to 11. Gun season is November 21 to 29. Muzzleloader season is November 30 to December 9. The statewide antlerless season is December 10 to 13. Lastly, the holiday hunt runs December 24 to January 1. Please check the Wisconsin DNR website to confirm.

The Grade: B

Despite being a great deer hunting destination, Wisconsin gets a B, and the biggest reason is chronic wasting disease (CWD). It continues to plague the landscape. It's most prevalent in the southern half of the state, which is also where the best hunting is located.

While CWD is rampant in the Badger State, it doesn’t seem to be affecting trophy potential too much. Deer hunters are still entering bucks into Boone and Crockett and Pope & Young records at a staggering rate, even more so than other heavy-hitter states. .

Wisconsin is also home to the Johnny King buck, which some claim is the rightful world record typical white-tailed deer. But due to a scoring technicality, it didn’t dethrone the Milo Hanson buck, and many hunters were upset about that.

Overall, it is hard to beat Wisconsin as a prime destination. It’s a solid state for DIY deer hunters. And what about those non-resident tags? Extremely affordable.

Antler Nation Knowledge:

When it comes to record deer, the entire state lights up like a Christmas tree. While a few other states have closed the gap in recent years, it’s still the No. 1 producer of giants, both historically and based off modern data alone. Of course, Buffalo County is the crowned jewel. Dane, Richland, Sauk, Shawano, Trempealeau, Vernon, Waupaca, and others are right at the top, too.

While the farmlands in southern Wisconsin are posting solid pre-hunt populations each year, the northern county deer densities are way down from historical figures. Fortunately for deer hunters, Wisconsin biologists estimate, forecast and publish data on deer populations in each management unit. This provides insight that you don’t get from many other states.

Wisconsin offers more than 5 million acres of public land. Annually, about 10 to 15% of the deer harvest is bagged on these properties. Hunters enjoy a wide range of public access, including Army Corps of Engineer, conservation areas, county forests, national forests, restoration areas, state forests, state parks, state natural areas, state wildlife areas, and more.

Looking for a really tough but fun backwoods adventure? Don't just think agriculture. Check out properties that are difficult to access. These oftentimes hold better populations of deer because of it. There are both hilly and marshy areas throughout Wisconsin that deter hunters.

Regardless of the area you choose, use the DNR's extensive online map system to locate potential spots for your next hunt.

Wisconsin Harvests

  • Bruce Van Pay

    Oshkosh, Wisconsin

  • Bruce Van Pay

    Oshkosh, Wisconsin

From the Realtree Trophy Den