How did a wild mule deer find its way into Wisconsin? This photo of a mule deer buck first surfaced earlier this week, and while the deer itself may not seem especially significant, where it was harvested is. According to various rumors on social media, the buck was taken by Randy Haines near Amery, Wisconsin with a bow and arrow. If that is true, it could be the first recorded mule deer buck ever taken in the Badger State. OutdoorHub contacted the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which confirmed that the buck was in fact a mule deer, and that it was legally harvested near Amery.

“We’ve gotten reports of mule deer in the area based on sightings and trail cam photos. Not that long after we got those reports the deer was harvested by a hunter,” Bob Nack, DNR big game section chief, told OutdoorHub over the phone.

Seeing mule deer in Wisconsin is extremely rare, but actually harvesting one? Both hunters and officials say they have never heard of a wild mule deer being taken in the state before.

“This is a real rare case,” Nack added. “They’re not native and we don’t have a breeding population at all. We have had reports in the past mostly from captive situations where deer have escaped, but this is a real rare occurrence.”

Officials clarified that the hunt was legal and that Haines will be allowed to keep the deer. Since there is no—or almost no—wild mule deer in Wisconsin, the state does not have any laws forbidding hunters from bagging one during whitetail season. Nack also added that the hunter will be allowed to keep the deer, but officials are currently testing it for diseases such as CWD. It is not known where the animal may have come from. Some speculate that the deer may have traveled all the way from states such as South Dakota, where the species has a significant population in the central and western parts of the state.

OutdoorHub will be adding to this story as more details emerge.

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8 thoughts on “Wisconsin Officials Confirm Extremely Rare Mule Deer Taken by Hunter

  1. Maybe they should start managing them separately from Whitetail, and allow a breeding population to establish itself. Mule Deer populations have been hurting out west lately, with drought, predation, and habitat loss, etc.; so seeing them spread elsewhere in the country would be a positive move I think. Mule Deer are impressive animals I feel, and should make for an interesting future for hunting opportunities within the state if all went well. We have separate hunts for both deer species here, either Mule Deer and/or Whitetail tags issued in given areas or units and works pretty good. Just a thought….

    1. That wouldn’t work on several levels:
      1) Mule deer aren’t native or indigenous to Wisconsin no more than brook trout are to the Rocky Mountain streams. Why would you want to promote a non-native species?
      2) Wisconsin doesn’t have mule deer habitat per se. Mule deer have evolved to survive in arid and/or alpine environs, not temperate forests you find in Wisconsin.
      3) One of the reasons the mule deer population is “hurting” out west is due to the expansion of whitetail deer. Whitetails are more aggressive than mulies, more adaptable, and will hybridize with them. Do you really think mule deer would stand a chance in a state that’s already overpopulated with whitetail?

  2. Who is checking the records? Must be NOBODY . At least 3 mule deer have been shot in Wisconsin . 1 in 1967 1 in 1988 and the latest , there have also been roadkills. Check your newspapers

  3. Cheesehead: “Look at that weird thing! What a rare sight.” *wipes drool from chin* “Hey! Rare thing! Welcome to Wisconnie, where” *click, gunshot* “the cheddar is sharp, we shoot mid-sentence and every animal that gets in our way is nothing more than an opportunity to collect bragging rights and free meat to feed our poor but spoiled, hungry but obese family. Because heritage!”

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