Bowhunting Seasons and Hours in Wisconsin (from DNR)

By Andy Ryan


Updated at

As a bow hunter in Wisconsin, you might be wondering when the bow hunting season ends. No worries, we’ve got you covered! Understanding when the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) sets the end of the bow hunting season is essential to planning your hunting expeditions and adhering to regulations.

In Wisconsin, the DNR establishes two primary hunting seasons: archery and crossbow. Both seasons typically coincide, providing hunters with the flexibility to use their preferred weapon in pursuit of deer. Throughout the state, these seasons vary slightly depending on the specific county and local regulations.

Basics of Bow Hunting in Wisconsin

To begin your bow hunting journey in Wisconsin, first, you have to obtain a hunting license. Wisconsin offers various seasons, including the archery and crossbow seasons.

When it comes to the equipment, the state of Wisconsin allows both regular bows and crossbows in hunting. Crossbows are becoming increasingly popular among deer hunters due to their ease of use and accuracy. If you’re new to bow hunting or looking to try something different, you may want to consider trying a crossbow.

The Department of Natural Resources provides all necessary information regarding hunting regulations and seasons on their website. In general, the bow hunting season for deer starts in mid-September and ends in early January, but it’s essential to check the specific dates for both archery and crossbow seasons every year. Keep in mind that these dates may change, so it’s always a good idea to stay updated through the DNR website.

Hunting Seasons

As a bow hunter in Wisconsin, it’s essential to know the hunting seasons to stay informed and plan your hunting trips effectively. In fall 2023, Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has set different dates for various hunting activities.

For deer season, the archery and crossbow season typically starts in mid-September and runs until early January. During this period, you can enjoy the bow hunting experience. Mark your calendar for these key dates:

  • Archery and crossbow deer season: Mid-September – Early January
  • Gun deer hunt: Late November – Early December

Apart from deer hunting, early migratory bird seasons also take place in Wisconsin. Keep an eye on the following dates:

  • Early teal season: Early September
  • Early goose season: Early September – Mid-September

For firearm enthusiasts, the gun deer hunt usually occurs in late November and lasts for about nine days. This timeframe allows hunters to catch deer during its prime movement.

In summary, as a bow hunter or gun hunter in Wisconsin, make sure to stay up-to-date with the DNR’s hunting season regulations, whether for deer or migratory birds. By doing so, you can maximize your harvest and enjoy a safe and successful hunting experience. 

Season Dates

The archery and crossbow season in Wisconsin runs from September 18 to January 9, but some metro units extend it until January 31.

Wisconsin Deer Seasons  
Archery and Crossbow Sept. 18-Jan. 9
Disabled Hunters Oct. 2-10
Youth Deer Oct. 9-10
Firearms Nov. 20-28
Muzzleloader Nov. 29-Dec. 8
December Antlerless Dec. 9-12
Holiday Hunt Dec. 24-Jan. 1
Wisconsin Bear Seasons  
C, E, F Zones (No dogs) Sept. 8-Oct. 12
Dog-Permitted Zones Sept. 8-14 (dogs only)
Sept. 15th -Oct. 5th (dogs and bait)
Sept. 6-12 (bait only)
Wisconsin Turkey Seasons  
Fall General Season Zones 1-5: Sept. 18-Jan. 9
Zones 6-7: Sept. 18-Nov. 19
Wisconsin Small Game Seasons  
Cottontail Rabbit Northern zone: Sept. 18-Feb. 28
Southern zone: Oct. 16-Feb. 28
Milwaukee County: Open Season
Squirrel Sept. 18-Jan. 31
Pheasant Oct. 16-Jan. 9
Quail Oct. 16-Dec. 8
Ruffed Grouse Zone A: Sept. 18-Jan. 9
Zone B: Oct. 16-Dec. 8
Hungarian Partridge Oct. 16-Jan. 9**

Eligibility and Permits

As a hunter in Wisconsin, it’s important to be aware of the eligibility requirements and permits needed for bow hunting. Residents and non-residents alike are required to adhere to the rules and regulations established by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Firstly, make sure you have a valid hunting license. You can obtain one through the website or by visiting a nearby license agent. Keep in mind that different permits are needed for residents and non-residents, so choose accordingly.

Next, familiarize yourself with the zones designated for bow hunting. These zones are divided across the state, and each area has a specific archery season. You can find a detailed map on the DNR website, making it easy to understand where and when you can hunt.

If you’re a hunter with disabilities, rest assured that Wisconsin DNR makes accommodations for accessible hunting opportunities. To participate, submit an application and provide documentation of your disability. Once approved, you’ll be eligible for the necessary permits to enjoy bow hunting in the state.

During the hunting season, you may have the option to obtain Bonus Antlerless Harvest Authorizations. These bonus authorizations allow hunters to harvest additional antlerless deer in designated areas. To check if you are eligible for these permits, refer to the DNR website or inquire at a license agent.

Game Animals Covered

When you partake in bow hunting in Wisconsin, a variety of game animals can be targeted during their respective hunting seasons. This enriches your overall hunting experience and allows you to expand your skills as a hunter. Some of the most common species are deer, wild turkey, and squirrels, but there are many other game animals available for you to pursue.

Deer hunting is incredibly popular, with both bucks and does on the radar for bow hunters. In addition to deer, you can also chase after wild turkey, which offers a challenging yet rewarding experience. With their keen senses and elusive nature, turkeys provide an exciting hunt.

As for smaller game, you’ll find eager targets in cottontail rabbits and squirrels, including both gray and fox squirrels. Rabbits are known for their quick dashes and ability to vanish into dense vegetation, while squirrels can be seen darting above the ground in trees.

If bird hunting entices you, Wisconsin’s diverse population of migratory birds offers a range of options. Some of these include mourning doves, common gallinules, sora, Virginia rail, and snipe. Hunting these game birds calls for precision and patience, as they can be quick and challenging to hit.

Ruffed grouse, Hungarian partridge, pheasant, and sharp-tailed grouse are other game birds you may encounter during your hunting excursions. Each comes with its own unique habits and habitats, ensuring a fresh challenge when you choose to pursue them.

While not as common, some hunters may also come across the elusive badger or jackrabbit. These creatures provide an exceptional hunting opportunity for those willing to put in the effort to track them down.

Keep in mind that not all species can be hunted year-round or statewide, so it’s essential to check Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regulations and season dates before planning your bow hunting trip. This way, you can ensure a successful experience and avoid any legal issues.

Role of Hunters in Wildlife Management

As a hunter, you play a crucial role in wildlife management, particularly when it comes to deer populations in Wisconsin. Your participation in bow hunting helps maintain the balance of the ecosystem by controlling deer numbers within their designated deer management units (DMUs).

Deer management in Wisconsin is a collaborative effort between hunters, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and other stakeholders. By purchasing your deer license, you’re directly supporting this important management system. License fees contribute to maintaining healthy deer populations, as well as funding conservation efforts and habitat restoration projects across the state.

When you’re out in the woods, you’re not just hunting for sport – you’re also helping to collect valuable data. By reporting your harvests and participating in voluntary surveys, you provide the DNR with indispensable information about deer populations within each DMU. This data ultimately informs management decisions and helps ensure the long-term health and stability of Wisconsin’s deer populations.

In addition to deer management, hunting also has broader implications for overall wildlife management efforts in Wisconsin. Hunters actively contribute to maintaining healthy ecosystems by helping control populations of other species, such as coyotes and feral pigs. These efforts play a vital role in protecting native plants, crops, and other animal populations from overgrazing and other damage.

Remember, as a hunter, you’re a steward of Wisconsin’s natural resources. Your responsible and ethical actions directly contribute to the success of wildlife management efforts in the state. By continuing to hunt within established regulations and participating in data collection, you’re fostering a healthier environment for all of Wisconsin’s flora and fauna.

Hunting Equipment and Safety

When it comes to bow hunting in Wisconsin, choosing the right equipment and prioritizing safety are essential for a successful and enjoyable experience. In this section, we will discuss the primary gear you will need and provide some safety tips to ensure a smooth bow hunting season.

First off, selecting the appropriate weapon type is crucial for your hunt. While crossbows and archery equipment may both be used for bow hunting in Wisconsin, it is important to be familiar with each type’s specific limitations and advantages. Practice with your chosen weapon, whether it’s a compound bow, recurve bow, or crossbow, can help improve your accuracy and confidence in the field.

As a hunter, it’s essential to invest in high-quality, well-maintained equipment. This includes:

  • A good-quality bow or crossbow
  • Arrows with broadheads that meet the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) requirements
  • A bow sling or other means of carrying your equipment safely through the woods

Additionally, you should consider wearing camouflage clothing and using a scent eliminator spray to remain inconspicuous to your prey.

Safety should always be your top priority while bow hunting. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Always check your equipment, including bowstrings, arrows, and broadheads, for any damage before heading out on your hunt.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and make sure you have a clear line of sight to your target.
  • Never point your bow or crossbow at anything other than your intended target.

Remember, hunting is a privilege, and it is your duty to ensure the safety of yourself and those around you. By following equipment guidelines and practicing safety measures in the field, you can engage in responsible and enjoyable bow hunting in Wisconsin.

Where to Hunt

When planning your bow hunting adventure in Wisconsin, there are several great locations to choose from. From the diverse habitats of farmland zones to urban settings, you have plenty of options.

Farmland (Zone 2) Counties: These counties offer abundant hunting opportunities for whitetail deer and other game species. In these areas, you’ll find a mix of agricultural fields, woodlands, and wetlands, allowing for excellent stalking or stand hunting opportunities. Farmland areas are spread throughout Wisconsin and include Dodge, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, and Jefferson counties.

Metro Sub-Units: For those looking for a more urban setting, Milwaukee County and other metro sub-units in Wisconsin offer numerous hunting opportunities. These sub-units are managed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and include designated hunting areas within the urban boundaries. You’ll find a unique hunting experience with the backdrop of the bustling city in these locations.

Migratory Birds: For those interested in migratory bird hunting, Wisconsin’s wetland and water bodies are excellent places to target waterfowl, including ducks and geese. These habitats can be found throughout the state, offering diverse hunting experiences. Be sure to follow the specific regulations for migratory bird hunting, as they may differ from other game species.

Hunting Hours

Wisconsin’s hunting hours are regulated. Lawful hunting is only permitted during daylight hours, which are defined as 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset.

Every hunter is responsible for knowing how to hunt properly, how to handle a weapon safely, and the restrictions that apply to the game he or she wishes to pursue. When a hunter is accompanied by a parent, guardian, or mentor, the parent, guardian, or mentor is responsible for teaching the hunter these skills.

Understanding Regulations

When it comes to bow hunting in Wisconsin, it’s essential to understand the regulations set forth by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). These rules help ensure a safe and successful hunting experience for you and everyone else involved.

First, it’s necessary to obtain a hunting license, which can be done either online or at license sales locations throughout the state. Remember, a specific deer hunting license is required for pursuing deer with a bow. Additionally, if you plan on hunting with a crossbow, a crossbow permit is needed.

Season dates for bow hunting in Wisconsin usually span from mid-September until early January. It is vital to familiarize yourself with these dates and adhere to them to ensure you are participating legally and responsibly. Note that there is also a special gun hunt period for hunters with disabilities during this time frame.

Here are some key points to consider in understanding Wisconsin’s hunting regulations:

  • Acquire the necessary hunting license and permits before heading out.
  • Always adhere to the season dates set by the DNR.
  • Be aware of license sales locations for easy access.
  • Keep in mind the special gun hunt for hunters with disabilities.

By following these regulations and guidelines, you can confidently engage in bow hunting in Wisconsin, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for all.

Special Hunts and Opportunities

In Wisconsin, there are several special hunts and opportunities designed for specific groups of hunters or certain times of the year. These hunts provide you with unique experiences to enjoy the great outdoors and pursue deer in different scenarios.

One of these special hunts is the Holiday Hunt. This exciting antlerless-only holiday hunt takes place in select areas, usually during late December, giving you the chance to bow hunt during the festive season. Be sure to check the current year’s regulations for specific dates and locations of this annual hunt.

Another great opportunity is the Youth Deer Hunt. Designed specifically for youth hunters, this event gives young enthusiasts a chance to participate in a safe and controlled environment alongside experienced mentors. This hunt typically takes place in early October and is open to hunters aged 15 and under.

For those hunting in Farmland (Zone 2), be sure to take advantage of the Farmland (Zone 2) Antlerless Harvest Authorization. This program aims to manage deer populations in agricultural areas and provides you with additional antlerless deer hunting opportunities. Make sure to obtain the required harvest authorizations and follow all applicable regulations.

Remember to always follow the rules and regulations set by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to ensure a safe and enjoyable hunting experience. By participating in these special hunts and opportunities, you can create lasting memories while contributing to conservation efforts in the state. Happy hunting!

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the bow hunting season close in Wisconsin?

The bow hunting season in Wisconsin typically ends around the first week of January. It’s essential to check the current year’s hunting regulations published by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for exact dates, as they may vary slightly from year to year.

What are the Wisconsin DNR regulations for bow hunting?

Wisconsin DNR regulates bow hunting through various laws and regulations, such as season dates, licensing requirements, bag limits, and more. You can find detailed information on their official website or consult the annual hunting regulations booklet. Be sure to familiarize yourself with these rules to ensure a safe and legal hunting experience.

How long is the bow hunting season in Wisconsin?

The bow hunting season in Wisconsin typically lasts for about three months, beginning in mid-September and concluding in early January. However, specific season dates may vary slightly from year to year, so be sure to consult the current year’s hunting regulations before planning your hunt.

Which days can you bow hunt in Wisconsin?

During the bow hunting season, you can hunt every day, including weekends and holidays. Please be aware of specific hunting hours set by the Wisconsin DNR and always follow the regulations to prevent any conflicts with other hunters or disturbances to local residents.

Are there specific hunting hours for bow hunting in Wisconsin?

Yes, there are specific hunting hours for bow hunting in Wisconsin. You can hunt from 30 minutes before sunrise until 20 minutes after sunset. Keep in mind that these hours may vary depending on the season and part of the state, so always consult the current year’s hunting regulations for the most accurate information.

How do I obtain a Wisconsin hunting license for bow hunting?

To obtain a bow hunting license in Wisconsin, you must first complete a bow hunter education course approved by the DNR if born on or after January 1, 1973. You can then purchase your license online through the Wisconsin DNR website, at an authorized license sales location, or by calling the DNR call center. Prices may vary depending on your residency status and selected hunting privileges.