Deer hunting set to start

This nice buck was shot during last year's fall hunt.

The Wisconsin gun-deer hunting season kicks off Saturday and runs for 9 days, through Nov. 28.

Area wildlife experts are forecasting a “very good” deer herd in Rusk County and excellent weather conditions.

County Deer Advisory Council Chairman Roger Roehl is anticipating a good deer hunt this year.

“Deer numbers are very good, generally throughout the county,” Roehl said. “As always numbers are considerably higher on private land, compared to public and forest crop lands.”

There are no new major deer hunting regulations for 2021, according to Roehl. 

“The weather change this past week should make for near perfect temperatures. Not to warm, but not to cold either. Doesn’t look like we will have snow to start with, but maybe with luck we will have some before the season ends,” Roehl said.

About 90 percent of Rusk County’s 930 square miles is considered suitable deer habitat with public land making up about 27 percent of the county including state, county and municipal government ownership as well as Forest Tax Law open lands.

“Warmer weather earlier this fall had deer harvest off to a slightly slower start than normal, but things have picked up quickly especially with the peak rut last week, said Emma Doden, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist for Rusk and Taylor counties.

Hunting season harvest numbers including archery/crossbow, youth, and disabled hunt are now above the 2018-20 harvests for bucks, and total deer kill for antlered and antlerless current harvest is on par with last year, which is still well above the 2018-2019 harvests.

The majority of deer are harvested during the 9-day gun season, with most being harvested during the first weekend of gun deer season.

“The rut is slowing down but there should still be some buck activity during the gun deer season, and activity from deer in general fueling up and feeding before the winter,” Doden said. “We had another mild winter for 2020-21 and a productive growing season, with good fawn survival meaning we are looking at a healthy deer population in good body condition with bucks able to put plenty of energy into antler growth again this year.”

Weather is looking to be above freezing during the day and dropping below freezing at night with low wind and a slight chance of snow on Saturday night and Sunday. 

“We are still a few days out so keep checking as the season draws closer as the weather may change,” Doden said.

Officials encourage hunters to submit their harvested deer for Chronic Wasting Disease sampling at either a self-serve kiosk. There is one at the Ladysmith DNR Service Center, N4103 Wis. 27. Others can be found at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/carcass.html.

“Or hunters can set up an appointment with me for any deer heads they would like to keep for European mounting. We also have a dumpster available for carcass disposal at the Ladysmith DNR Service Center to help prevent the potential spread of CWD from carcasses left on the landscape,” Doden said.

All deer must be registered by 5 p.m. the day after recovery. Deer can be registered at gamereg.wi.gov, by calling 1-844-GAMEREG or by finding a station that offers a phone or computer for registration.

“There will be many hunters out for the gun deer season, so the DNR would like to remind everyone to stay as safe as possible by practicing firearm safety, wearing safety harnesses in tree stands, and wearing solid blaze orange,” Doden said.

Conservation Warden Dylan Belisle cited the four rules of firearm safety. TABK stands for treat every firearm as if it is loaded, always point the muzzle in a safe direction, be sure of your target and what is beyond and keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.

Belisle also urged hunters to keep an eye out for the elk in Rusk County.

“Please double check that you have the appropriate license prior to hunting,” Belisle said.

Licenses can be purchased any time through the hunter’s Go Wild account or at businesses that sell DNR licenses during their business hours.

There are still antlerless harvest authorizations available for Rusk County, according to Belisle. As of 2 p.m., Monday, there were 635 public and 6,780 private permits available.

Hunter safety is required for anyone born after Jan. 1, 1973 unless they are hunting under the mentorship hunting program.

The combined hunting regulations can be viewed any time online or can be found at locations that sell DNR licenses during their business hours.

“Safety is very important, wear orange, practice safe firearm handling, wear your safety harnesses in stands, and let people know your plans when you go out and hunt,” Belisle said.

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