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Antlerless tags will be available in some units that had none last year, but there will be none available in many other units, including most of Vilas County.File photo by Luke Laggis/River News
Antlerless tags will be available in some units that had none last year, but there will be none available in many other units, including most of Vilas County.

File photo by Luke Laggis/River News
7/23/2011 7:30:00 AM
New deer hunting rules in effect
Antlerless tags return in some units, eliminated in others
Luke Laggis
Outdoors Editor

 The 2011 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations handbook is out, and hunters will notice a few changes in store for the fall hunt.

  For one, there are only eight deer management units (DMUs) across the Northwoods that will be buck-only this fall. Last year, 18 DMUs in northern Wisconsin had deer populations below goal and were designated as "zero quota" units, where neither gun nor archery deer hunters could shoot an antlerless deer. The herd has begun to rebound in a number of these units, but in the eight where the population continues below goal (units 3, 7, 29B, 34, 35, 39, 44, and 45), there will again be a zero antlerless quotas.

So, hunters in this area will get to shoot more antlerless deer this year, and the data points to a stronger population of both does and bucks. The 2010 harvest showed a 16 percent overall increase in the northern forest region buck kill and a 20 percent increase in the gun buck harvest. Mild winter conditions and the early spring green-up helped fawn production in 2010. This past winter was also quite mild, which should help the deer population continue to rebound this year.

Units 36, 37, 38, 42, 43 and 52, which form a large block around the Rhinelander area, will all have a limited number of antlerless tags available. Antlerless tags will also be available as they were last year in units 31 and 32, covering the west sides of Oneida and Lincoln counties.

It will be a different story in most of Vilas and Forest counties, where units 29B, 34, 35, 39, 44 and 45 will have no antlerless tags in 2011. Units 3 and 7 in Ashland and Bayfield counties are the other two buck-only units this year.

The 2011 rule book also does away with earn-a-buck requirements and the four-day October antlerless gun hunt in 74 herd control zones. Both these aspects of recent deer seasons were met with resentment from Wisconsin hunters, who argued the October season prematurely sent deer into nocturnal patterns, and the EAB requirement in many management units with population above goal forced hunters to shoot antlerless deer they didn't want. Many also complained about having to pass up shots on trophy bucks they hadn't yet earned the right to harvest.

Other pieces of the 2011 deer season framework include:

• The four-day October antlerless-only hunt will only occur in the CWD Management Zone.

• All youth ages 10-17 will automatically be issued free antlerless tags when they purchase a gun deer license. The tag is valid for one antlerless deer in any DMU, including the regular buck-only units that have no antlerless quota.

• One-time-only free antlerless tags that were issued to hunters upon completion of the hunter education course will no longer be issued.

• Telescopic sights with magnification can now be used statewide during all gun seasons, including the muzzleloader-only deer season.

• In the CWD disease management zone, hunters' first deer can be either sex, with Earn-a-buck requirements kicking in after that. CWD management zone buck stickers earned in 2010 will be honored in 2011 and hunters can obtain up to four free CWD antlerless tags per day. These tags can only be used in the CWD zone. There will still be October and Holiday hunts in the CWD zone.

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