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In the Outdoors: Whitetails abound in farm zones as gun hunt begins

By Kevin Naze

Hunter optimism is nearly as high as the full moon that’ll be illuminating Northeastern Wisconsin tonight, the eve before the opening day of the 2021 gun deer hunting season.

By the time the last round is fired, more than 200,000 whitetails will likely have been registered across the state.

That’s in addition to more than 100,000 expected to be taken by archery and crossbow deer hunters.

The nine-day gun deer hunt is immediately followed by a 10-day muzzleloader hunt (or seven more days of firearm deer hunting in metro sub-units, including Brown County’s) and a four-day, antlerless-only gun hunt in farmland zones that have the highest deer populations.

Nearly 600,000 licenses allowing gun deer hunting are sold each year in Wisconsin, and Brown County is ground zero when it comes to whitetail fanatics.

Green Bay’s Fleet Farm stores are usually at or near the top of the list of license sales at single locations.

Hunters from all 50 states and 14 countries purchased tags allowing deer hunting in Wisconsin last year, with an estimated economic impact of more than $2 billion.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Deer Program Specialist Jeff Pritzl said the early bow buck harvest is at or ahead of the five-year average.

Crop harvest is also ahead of schedule, and there’s less water restricting access.

The gun deer season is as much a cultural event with family and friends as it is about filling the freezer, Pritzl said.

Sitting in the woods can bring the greatest peace and serenity, as well as the greatest adrenaline rush.

“Hunters are out there for both ends of the spectrum,” he said.

DNR Hunter Education Administrator and Conservation Warden Jon King said hunters need to be safe, ethical and responsible.

He encourages the use of all the skills and equipment necessary to reduce the risk of shooting accidents or falls from tree stands, including a haul line and full-body harness.

If using an ATV or UTV, King said to slow down, make sure firearms are unloaded and wear a helmet and seat belt.

Those using boats to access marshes, islands or areas along rivers should wear life jackets, he said, and check recommended weight limits.

Meanwhile, DNR Wildlife Health Conservation Specialist Mandy Kamps said the agency is hoping more hunters provide samples for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) surveillance.

No CWD was found in the Northeast Region last year.

Locations to find CWD sampling or carcass disposal sites can be found at dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/WildlifeHabitat/registersample.

In addition, area food pantries can benefit from ground venison made from your whole, donated deer carcass.

Find a list of cooperating processors at dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/hunt/donation.

Contact the DNR

Dozens of area businesses sell hunting licenses, including the DNR Service Center at 2984 Shawano Ave., in Green Bay.

You can also purchase online 24/7 at gowild.wi.gov.

Have questions? Customer Service staff are available seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., by calling 1-888-WDNRINFO (1-888-936-7463).

In addition, there’s a chat feature available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at dnr.wi.gov/chat/.

The public can call or text confidential tips on any suspected wildlife violations to 1-800-TIP-WDNR.

Finally, you can register your deer, check daily shooting hours and much more on the DNR’s Hunt Wild app, a free download for both Apple and Android devices.

Wear blaze orange

Bow and crossbow hunters will need to wear blaze orange or fluorescent pink clothing for more than a month this fall and winter.

The highly visible clothing is needed for all hunters in counties with an open gun deer season, except those pursuing waterfowl or in legal night hunting situations (such as for raccoon) between 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.

Those gun deer dates include Nov. 20-28 (9-day season), Nov. 29-Dec. 8 (10-day muzzleloader hunt) and Dec. 9-12 and Dec. 24-Jan. 1 (antlerless-only hunts in many farmland zones).

Deer data online

For a complete look at all the 2021-22 deer hunting opportunities and historic data, visit dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/deer.

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