• Sat. Nov 26th, 2022

Favorable conditions for Wisconsin whitetail deer hunting season November 19-27

ByMary M. Ward

Nov 17, 2022

CLINTONVILLE – An inch of fresh snow covered the ground Tuesday morning in northeast Waupaca County.

And the total was slowly increasing.

Sitting in a tree, I had a front row seat to witness the weather and wildlife shows in a mature forest of maple, oak and Wisconsin beech.

At 7 a.m., a veil of small flakes drifted across the canopy.

Then more movement and no heavens. A hundred and fifty yards away, a four-legged brown form moved slowly through the woods. It was followed about a minute later by a similar but smaller animal.

In this region rich in deer, I had little doubt about what I was seeing. But I slowly raised my binoculars to confirm: it was a female white-tailed deer, or doe, and her likely offspring from that year.

The deer snuck through a tangle of underbrush and disappeared from sight.

Ten minutes later an 8 point buck ran the same trail and in the same direction. However, it moved at a set pace, dropping its muzzle to the ground every 20 paces or so.

Yes, it was on a mission to find that doe. And it was a sign that the rut, or deer breeding season that usually peaks the first week of November, was at least partially still underway.

The bowhunting outing with my friend Jim Schoenike from Clintonville ended without a shot for any of us.

But I mention it for two main reasons as we approach Wisconsin’s nine-day deer hunting season in 2022.

First of all, I doubt I would have been able to spot the deer relatively far away through the undergrowth without the benefit of snow cover.

The brown shapes stood out against the white background.

Second, the dates for the 2022 gun season, which traditionally opens the Saturday before Thanksgiving, are the second earliest in the rotating calendar sequence. This means that gun hunters this year should benefit from more deer movements associated with the rut than usual.

The 2022 season runs from Saturday to November 27.

After:What you need to know about Wisconsin deer hunting season, including opening date, regulations, licensing and more

After:Deer hunting has become safer but vigilance is still required

Meteorologists are predicting sub-zero temperatures for the next few days and expect the snow that recently fell across most of the state to linger on the ground.

So two of the main factors, snow cover and rutting activity, are very promising for this year’s shooting season.

A third, abundance of deer, also looks good. Although the Department of Natural Resources has continued its recent practice of not releasing statewide pre-season deer population estimates, the herd is robust, according to MNR deer specialist Jeff Pritzl. .

“It’s just a very, very large number,” Pritzl said, referring to Wisconsin’s deer population. “Well over a million, probably over a million and a half, in some cases pushing 2 million animals into the landscape.”

Pritzl said Wisconsin was not alone in the region. From a longer-term perspective, every state in the Midwest has had “lots of deer” for decades now.

A white-tailed deer tracks the scent of a doe in late October in Wauwatosa, Milwaukee County.

Wisconsin’s deer population has benefited from a series of mild winters in recent years. The abundant state of the deer herd is underscored by recommendations from all county deer advisory boards to offer antlerless deer permits for sale this season.

This is a given in agricultural counties. But in the northern forest, it’s rare.

So deer numbers, along with field conditions and time of season, form a promising triumvirate for gun hunters this year.

Another recent trend will also be interesting to observe.

The 2021 hunting season produced whitetail deer records in the archery and crossbow categories. The archery, a 19-pointer from Dane County, scored 205 4/8 using the Boone & Crockett scoring system.

This deer is less than an inch from the top of the rifle record, the 206 1/8 inch 10-pointer shot by James Jordan in 1914. The Jordan Buck is so big it held the world tail record white until 1993.

So, will a gun hunter take on a new state or maybe a world record during Wisconsin’s 2022 gun season?

It’s still a possibility in the state that tops all others in Boone & Crockett’s record book entries.

The DNR expects around 550,000 hunters to take to the fields and woods on opening day, on par with 2021.

With meat prices higher than a year ago due to inflation, however, that number could rise slightly as more people may be motivated to source relatively inexpensive wild-caught protein.

I will be hunting this year in Sauk County with friends near or on the Leopold Reserve, land managed by the Aldo Leopold Foundation. Staff are trying to restore the oak savannah and other habitats on the site; deer control is important to allow regeneration of key plant species.

I will do my best to help in this regard.

For all of you leaving for the season, remember that it’s only a success if you get home safely.

Remember to practice these safety tips:

  • Follow the cardinal rules (TAB-K) of firearm safety: treat each firearm as if it were loaded; always point the muzzle in a safe direction; be certain of your target and what lies beyond; keep your finger off the trigger guard until you are ready to fire.
  • Plan your hunt and hunt your plan. Hunters need to know where they are going and when they will return. Tell someone where you are going to hunt and when you expect to be done.
  • Follow safe practices when using a tree stand, including a full body harness and maintaining three points of contact (two hands and one foot, for example) when ascending or descending.
  • If you erect a tree support or use a climbing support, state forestry officials advise hunters to avoid ash trees. Several thousand ash trees in Wisconsin have died or are dying from an emerald ash borer infestation and may snap or drop large branches unexpectedly.

Here’s to a safe and successful 2022 Wisconsin deer season.