By Sara Tischauser
As hunters prepare for the upcoming nine day gun deer season, some might find it difficult to know what rules have changed or what has stayed the same with hunting laws and regulations.
One of the topics that has been discussed a lot is the movement of deer carcasses. Cara Kamke, conservation warden out of the Appleton area, said the emergency rule that was to take effect Oct. 1 restricting the movement of deer carcasses from CWD (chronic wasting disease) -affected counties did not go into effect. Kamke said the rules regarding movement of deer carcasses is the same for the 2018 hunting season as they were in 2017.
Kamke said the rule is that if a deer is shot in a CWD affected county it can be transported to any other CWD county or any county adjacent to a CWD county in the state. In Wisconsin this would only leave out two counties (Ashland and Door) that are not either a CWD affected county or adjacent to a CWD county. So Kamke said if a deer is shot in a CWD county it can only be transported to Ashland or Door county if it is being taken to a licensed taxidermist or meat processor within 72 hours of registration.
One of the concerns, Kamke said with deer carcasses is how hunters are disposing of the carcass.
“Our biggest concern is with carcasses being littered,” Kamke said. “[We would like hunters to] dispose of properly as in a landfill.”
Kamke said many landfills will take carcasses for disposal and this helps prevent the spread of CWD if a carcass had been infected with it. She said many hunters dispose of the carcasses in the woods and this could potentially spread the disease to other deer if the carcass was infected.
The recommendation to hunters, that Kamke had, was that hunters call local landfills ahead of time and see if they will take deer carcasses and then if they do, she said hunters should take their deer carcasses to the landfill for disposal.
During the gun deer season all hunters that are hunting (with the exception of waterfowl hunters) must wear blaze orange or florescent pink. This would include all gun deer seasons including the regular nine day gun deer season, muzzleloader season, antlerless hunt and holiday hunt.
Once a deer is recovered, the hunter has until 5 p.m. the day after the deer is recovered to register the deer. Deer registration can now be done online at www.gamereg.wi.gov or by calling (844) 426-3734. There are some walk-in deer registration stations that provide computers or phones for hunters to register their deer. A list of these walk-in deer registration stations can be found at https://dnr.wi.gov/wmcwd/RegStation/Search.
“It is mandatory that people register their deer,” Kamke said. “We understand people forget. If you forget, call the tip line and self-report. It’s always better to register late than not at all.”
Who can hunt
Kamke said that hunters who have not had a hunter safety class can still go hunting as long as they hunt with a mentor. She said the mentor must be within an arm’s length of the hunter at all times.
“Anybody of any age can hunt as long as they hunt within mentoring hunting laws,” Kamke said.
Kamke said in order to be a mentor someone must be at least 18 years old and have a hunting license of some kind. If the mentor doesn’t have a license for the type of hunt he/she is mentoring for the mentor cannot handle the gun or harvest an animal of his/her own during the hunt.
For youth that are hunting, Kamke said that once the youth reaches the age of 12, the youth can take the hunter safety class. Youth ages 12 and 13 who have completed the hunter safety class still need to hunt with an adult guardian but only need to be within sight and sound of the guardian and no longer have to maintain that arm’s length from the adult/mentor.
Once someone has completed the hunter safety class and is at least 14 years old the person can hunt by himself/herself.
When a hunter goes to purchase a deer tag (commonly called harvest authorization) the hunter must know what zone, deer management unit (county) and land type (public or private) he/she will be hunting in. This information is used to determine the free antlerless tags a person will get. If multiple anterless tags are offered in an area Kimberly Currie, director of customer and outreach services with the DNR, said hunters can split their anterless tags between public and private land type if they want to.
Each county may have a different amount of free antlerless tags a hunter will receive. Kamke said if someone hunts on both private and public land she would recommend getting the free tags that come with the purchase of the deer license for public land. She said these sell out first and a hunter may not have the opportunity to buy a public hunting tag as a bonus tag. However, she said that private tags are usually available for purchase later in the season as bonus tags.
Hunters who bought their deer tags before August will need to go back into the system and select what county they are hunting in in order to get their antlerless tags.
Kamke said the DNR will work with hunters who have to recover their deer from a land type different than what their tag is. Kamke said as long as killing shot took place where tag is valid for and hunter just needs to go to other land to recover deer it is okay. For example she said if deer is shot on private property and then goes to public land before it dies, the hunter can go get deer on public land and tag with their tag for private land.
However, she said this is only if the deer is dead.
“If deer is wounded, but not dead call DNR for assistance,” Kamke said. “We are pretty reasonable when people are up front with us.”
Permission to cross private land boundaries
As hunting season approaches, Kamke said it is always a good idea to talk to surrounding landowners about hunting. She said it is best to know ahead of time if landowners will allow hunters to come on a property to track/recover a deer.
“I encourage hunters to talk to neighbors and get permission ahead of time,” Kamke said.
Kamke said the DNR does not usually get involved with land disputes. If the DNR is called to intervene in cases where a landowner won’t let a hunter recover a deer, the DNR warden will not be able to return the deer to the hunter. She said usually they try to donate the deer to a local food pantry, but unfortunately cannot give deer to original hunter.
During firearm deer season it is legal to shoot a deer for another person during group hunting. When group hunting all hunters in the hunting party must have a valid gun deer license and must be carrying a firearm. At least one person in the group must have an empty tag for the area where the party is hunting and type of deer (buck or doe) the party is hunting for.
While hunting the members of the group must be within sight or voice contact of each other. Members cannot use electronic devices (other than hearing aids) to communicate with each other.
Once a deer is killed, Kamke said as long as the deer is still in the woods or field the person who tagged the deer should stay with deer. She said even after a deer is registered the person who tagged deer needs to remain with the deer.
Kamke said other hunters cannot stay with the deer while it is in field or woods. She said if anyone stays with the deer it must be the person who tagged the deer. It is legal for the deer to remain unattended in the field or woods if the hunter who tagged deer cannot remain with it.