Wisconsin’s conservation wardens say hunters preparing for the upcoming 9-day gun-deer season should make note of some new laws designed to make the season more enjoyable while also protecting the deer herd.

Here’s what’s new and different in the rule book for 2012 and some clarifications wardens hope will be helpful:

Trail cameras now can be left overnight on DNR-owned public hunting lands provided the owner of the camera who leaves it on state lands overnight has their customer ID legibly displayed on the exterior of the camera. Cameras are left at the owner’s risk.

Tree stands and ground blinds, other than blinds used for waterfowl hunting, must be removed from DNR-owned lands at the close of hunting hours each day. This regulation has not changed.

Any hunter now can use a crossbow during any gun deer season, including muzzleloader, under the authority of their gun deer license and gun deer carcass tags. This change applies to gun seasons only.

An archery license still allows hunting only with a bow and arrow, except that a person age 65 or older and certain qualified disabled hunters may use a crossbow to fill their archery deer carcass tags. Under a 2011 rule change, archers can hunt with bow and arrow during the nine-day gun deer season as long as they comply with the same blaze orange clothing requirements that apply to gun hunters.

The crossbow cannot be used in group hunting, which is limited to the gun deer season and to hunters with a gun license using firearms. In group hunting, one hunter can shoot a deer and another can tag it as long as both have gun deer licenses and the gun deer tag is valid for that unit. The two hunters must be within voice contact without the use of electronic devices such as cell phones or walkie talkies.

Coyotes now can be hunted statewide during the gun deer season. The hunting hours for coyote during the 9-day gun-deer season are the same as the hunting hours for deer. Those hunting coyotes will need a license that authorizes hunting small game unless they are hunting on land they own or reside.

Since Wisconsin’s first wolf hunt in modern times will also be open during the gun-deer hunt, it is important that all hunters ensure they are correctly identifying their targets.

Most hunters are not allowed to hunt antlerless deer in 6 regular buck-only deer management units. Archery and gun antlerless deer carcass tags are not valid in units 7, 29B, 34, 35, 36, and 39, all located in far northern Wisconsin. No bonus antlerless tags will be available in these units. There are exceptions for Armed Forces members, youth ages 10-17 and certain disabled-hunting permit holders. Details can be found in the printed or online versions of the 2112 hunting regulations.

Due to the discovery of chronic wasting disease in Washburn County, baiting and feeding deer is now prohibited in in Burnett, Barron, Washburn and Polk counties in northwestern Wisconsin.

Just prior to deer season last year, the regulations changed regarding the transportation of firearms and bows. Highlights follow:

  • Firearms no longer need to be cased while in a vehicle, regardless of whether the vehicle is stationary or moving.
  • All long guns must be unloaded when in any vehicle, and in or on a moving vehicle.
  • Handguns can be uncased and loaded in a vehicle, but cannot be concealed unless the person is authorized to possess a concealed weapon.
  • It is illegal to shoot a firearm or bow and arrow from a vehicle, unless disabled and complying with conditions of a disabled hunting permit.

DNR conservation wardens are encouraging hunters to review the 2012 hunting regulations pamphlet available at any DNR office or license vendor and also available online at dnr.wi.gov. Just type “deer” into the search box and scroll down for the regulations link. Reviewing the regulations will help ensure a fun, safe and successful hunt.

Logo courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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