Wisconsin bow hunters have been asking for it for a long time, and now they have it. Up until this year, Wisconsin archery hunters had to put away their bows and arrows during the annual nine-day firearms deer season. The theory was that there might be too many conflicts between gun hunters and bow hunters if they had to share the deer woods in November.
Well, this year, the Department of Natural Resources has approved archery hunting for deer during the traditional, Thanksgiving week, firearms deer season. That makes for an amazingly long season available to Wisconsin bow hunters and how many conflicts develop remains to be seen … I’m betting very few.
The 2011 archery deer season runs from this Saturday, Sept. 17, through Thursday, Nov. 17, and then again from Saturday, Nov. 19, (which coincides with the start of the firearms deer season,) through Jan. 8. With a season this long, bow hunters are able to enjoy hunting the pre-rut, the rut itself, post-rut and even second rut seasons. That’s a lot of time in a tree, if you are so inclined.
As in years past, the Friday prior to the firearms opener, (this year that day is Nov. 18) deer hunting of all types is restricted.
What Wisconsin bow hunters need to keep in mind however, is that while they can hunt along with the gun hunters during that nine-day period, they will have to adhere to the same blaze orange requirements as gun hunters do. That means that bow hunters must put away their camouflage, or at least cover it up with blaze orange.
The regulation, which applies to all hunters afield in an open firearms deer unit, says the following:
“no person may hunt any game, except waterfowl, unless at least 50% of the person’s outer clothing above the waist is colored blaze orange. A hat or other head covering, if worn, must be at least 50% blaze orange. Faded or stained blaze orange clothing is unsafe and may not meet law requirements.”
You can download a complete PDF copy of the current deer hunting regulations at the DNR website.
Another bit of news that should make bow hunters happy is that the there are no gun hunts in October this year outside of the CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) units in southern Wisconsin.
The timing of those October management firearm hunts in previous years was always a source of annoyance for archers who wanted to be in their stands more frequently at that time of year.
The pre-rut period in late October has probably accounted for more big bucks being bagged in Wisconsin than any other time of year, and bow hunters felt the sudden influx of gun hunters was negatively affecting the daytime movements of the big bucks they were after. I know from personal experience that it doesn’t take much human activity to make the bucks nocturnal, so I understand the concern.
This year, at least, that’s one fewer worry for the 260,000 registered bow hunters in Wisconsin.
In our immediate area, I am still seeing a few bucks in velvet, but by Saturday I think the vast majority will have rubbed their antlers smooth. And with the recent and welcome relief from summer-like temperatures, I'm betting there will be a lot of area archers out this weekend.
Along with the archery deer season opening, many of the small game seasons also begin this weekend. And the waterfowl youth hunt is happening as well.
Things are starting to get busy in area woods and fields, so this is the time to wish everyone good luck, and remind you all to be safe!