Est. Whitetail Population
No. Licenses Sold Annually
$24 and up
Archery and gun licenses are $24.
Resident hunting license and deer permit
$160 and up
Archery and gun licenses are $160.
Non-resident hunting license and deer permit
Taken by James Jordan in Burnett County in 1914, ranked No. 3 of all time.
Record B&C Typical Stat
Total B&C Typical Entries
Taken by Elmer Gotz in Buffalo County in 1973. It ranks No. 97 of all time.
Record B&C Non-Typical Stat
Record B&C Non-Typical Entries
Check out the latest info for Wisconsin. Image by Tony Campbell
Season Dates (2023):
Archery and crossbow season is Sept. 16 to Jan. 7, but it runs through Jan. 31 in some metro units. Youth season is Oct. 7 and 8, and the disabled season runs Oct. 7 through 15. Gun season is Nov. 18 through 26. Muzzleloader season is Nov. 27 to Dec. 6. The statewide antlerless season is Dec. 7 through 10. The farmland zone holiday hunt runs Dec. 24 to Jan. 1. 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. 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 found.
“Be aware of county-level regulations regarding baiting and carcass transport,” said Wesley Ellarson, a deer biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “Use DNR dumpsters for butchered carcass disposal. Wisconsin continues to grow trophy bucks and supply hunters with a classic deer hunting experience. We also have several programs and price incentives for first-time hunters.”
CWD is rampant in the Badger State, but it doesn’t seem to be affecting trophy potential too much yet. Deer hunters are still entering bucks into Boone and Crockett and Pope and 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 because of a scoring technicality, the deer didn’t dethrone the Milo Hanson buck, and many hunters were upset about that.
Overall, it's difficult to beat Wisconsin as a prime destination. It’s a solid state for DIY deer hunters. And what about those nonresident tags? Extremely affordable.
“Things should be pretty much like 2022, said Jeffrey Pritzl, deer program specialist with the Wisconsin DNR. “However, we were fortunate to have snow cover over much of the state during the firearms season last year, which increased the harvest. That only happens about once a decade. So, if we don’t have extensive snow cover during the gun season this year, the harvest will likely be down somewhat for that week, which has a big influence on the totals for the year.”
Antler Nation Knowledge:
When it comes to record deer, the entire state lights up like a Christmas tree. A few other states have closed the gap in recent years, but Wisconsin is still the No. 1 producer of giants, historically and based off modern data. Of course, Buffalo County is the crown jewel. Dane, Richland, Sauk, Shawano, Trempealeau, Vernon, Waupaca and others are right at the top, too.
Although the farmlands in southern Wisconsin post solid pre-hunt populations each year, 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 comes from those properties. Hunters enjoy a wide range of PUBLIC ACCESS, including U.S. Army Corps of Engineer land, 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 often hold better populations of deer because of it. There are hilly and marshy areas throughout Wisconsin that deter hunters.
“There is a lot of public land along water courses that is hard to get to on foot,” Pritzl said. “Consider paddling a small watercraft to get to spots less pressured by other hunters.”
Regardless of the area you choose, use the DNR’s extensive online map system to locate potential spots for YOUR NEXT HUNT.
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