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Outdoors life after gun deer season
Bird with deer fat
Deer fat attracts numerous bird species

With so much hype regarding The Season, a.k.a. the nine-day gun deer season, the public must wonder if there is life beyond these nine days.

Yes, clearly, even beyond looking at the registration figures.  Here are the nine-day figures; hunters registered 85,240 deer; 52,483 were bucks.  Some of those 85,240 were taken by youth hunters during Oct. 7-8.

The bow and crossbow continues until Jan. 7, 2024.  

Before the blaze orange is washed and hung out to dry, muzzleloader hunters can take any leftover authorizations and hunt deer until Dec. 6.  Then bring the rifles back for a statewide antlerless season Dec. 7-10.

In some areas, an antlerless-only Holiday Hunt opens Dec. 24 and closes Jan. 1, 2024.

Check regulation maps since some of these seasons have restrictions.  

Regardless of the hunting type, if there is a gun deer season ongoing in the area, all hunters, except waterfowlers, must follow blaze orange rules of 50 percent above the waist plus the cap.

Had it with deer?

Buck in woods
Hunters had some difficulty seeing deer without sighting snow as a backdrop
No need to become depressed.  You’re in Wisconsin’s great outdoors.

“When it snows I like to read a book, not just any book but a snow book by walking trails and off trails and letting the snow tracks tell me what’s going on,” said Gary Howards, of Oregon, Wis.  

Gary can disturb a rabbit, sort out rabbit tracks from squirrel tracks, notice owl wing prints, which were made after dark.  “The squirrel season now goes until February’s end,” Gary said. “If we get snow, there’ll be skiing, snowshoeing and even snowmobiling,” said Doug Williams, at D W Sports Center in Portage.  “Looks as though the ice fishing season may be short, but better be ready when it does come.”

Speaking of the Holidays, don’t forget the special release of ring-necked pheasants just before Christmas.  Pheasant hunting is a continuation of the same rules as during mid-October.

“As long as there is no ice, open water fishing may be an option, but not for trout streams,” Doug said.  “The trout anglers are already busy tying flies for the early Trout season, which opens the first Saturday in January, 2024.

Wisconsin bear hunters registered 2,922 bears compared to nearly 4,000 in 2022.  Acorns, an abundance of them, may have played into that picture by providing natural food giving bears a choice between donuts and oak nuts.

Turkey hunters, even though Thanksgiving Day is behind us, can add to the 2,906 birds registered thus far.

Hawk eating carcass
A mature red-tailed hawk feeds on a deer carcass

With the close of the nine-day deer season, hunters are free to think of changes they would like to make to their hunting and for the betterment of deer season.  

Gun-deer season involves residents from every state, helps sell 550,000 licenses, and goes on to touch most of the non-hunters in some way. Hunters may consider making a remark or request to the media folks to cover this season more adequately as a news item.  

Now is the time to consider nominating an ethical hunter for the statewide DNR Ethical Hunter Award.  The process is simple.  Every warden knows the ropes. I can direct you, too.

The mountain lion shot by a Buffalo County bow hunter did not receive a citation, even though this animal is a protected species.  The DA in that county did not pursue any charges, after a discussion with wardens investigating the case, recovering the carcass, and listening to the hunter’s story about fearing for his safety before killing the mountain lion.  The individual also self-reported the incident.  He did the ethical thing, which goes a long way, wardens say in most situations.

He will not be able to have the animal; it is in the hands of wildlife biologists who will decide where it will end up.

Birds, sometimes large birds, can be attracted by feeding scraps from home processing a deer.  Fat from the animal attracts hawks, eagles, woodpeckers and crows.  Take extra precautions if the deer was shot with lead ammunition and toss the bones in one of the many dumpsters provided.

Don’t forget the holiday photos for cards or simple prints to send along with greetings.  With some imagination this can be accomplished without snow’s presence.

Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer, at or 608.924.1112.