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State tweaks deer hunt regulations

The hunting prognosis is good for Douglas County.

"The deer harvest should be up this year," said DNR Wildlife Biologist Greg Kessler, following several mild winters and several years with buck-only seasons. "The buck harvest should increase about 20 percent."

In addition, Douglas County issued 1,000 antlerless permits this year. Kessler expects about 500 antlerless deer to be harvested during the gun hunt.

"Deer should be in good condition since they had a mild winter and a mild fall, the last week notwithstanding," he said.

If hunters taking part in Wisconsin's gun deer hunt Nov. 18-26 picked up a regulation booklet early, they may want to check for last-minute changes.

"It seems every night we get some sort of new information," said DNR conservation warden John Krull.

The biggest change deals with the tagging system, which has been tweaked three times in the past few years.

"There is no carcass tag," Krull said. "It's basically an honor system for tagging deer."

Although validation and tagging is no longer required, hunters must still carry proof of a hunting license and deer tags. The accepted forms of proof include a paper copy, an authenticated Wisconsin driver's license, a DNR-issued Go Wild Conservation Card or a digital tag image displayed on an electronic device.

Paper copies of licenses and tags may be obtained at no charge if printed at home or obtained at DNR service centers.

Paper tags already issued are still valid and contain the deer tag number, which is required when registering a deer.

Hunters must still register deer by 5 p.m. the day after recovery, using their unique deer tag number.

"Hunters must also register their deer before leaving it with another person or if it is being transported by another person," Kessler said. "They should provide both their tag number and registration number with the person transporting or possessing the deer."

To register, visit gamereg.wi.gov and enter harvest information, call (844) 426-3734 and follow the prompts, or in person. In addition to the tag number, hunters should enter their zone (Northern Forest), deer management unit (Douglas County) and land type (public or private). If registering by phone, the three-digit number for Douglas County is 368. Hunters should keep the 10-digit confirmation number they receive.

Two Douglas County businesses — the Dry Dock Tavern in Foxboro and Wasko's Campground in Lake Nebagamon — have offered to assist hunters with the electronic registration process.

Baiting is allowed in Douglas County, but only in moderation.

"You are not allowed to place, use or hunt over more than 2 gallons of bait," Krull said.

At a hunter's request, the DNR can test adult deer harvested for CWD, but it is not mandatory.

"We have tested over 600 deer for CWD and screened for tuberculosis since 1999 in Douglas County and have never detected it," Kessler said.

Ground blinds and treestands can be left out overnight on DNR-managed lands north of Highway 64. And hunters can stay in their stands all night long. It only becomes a violation if they shoot a deer.

"We now have shooting hours instead of hunting hours," Krull said. "You can hunt at midnight, you just can't shoot at midnight."

Hunters should follow basic safety guidelines such as wearing a full body fall-arrest harness if hunting from treestands and letting someone know where they will be and when they will return. Kessler encouraged all hunters to follow TABK:

*Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.

* Always point the firearm in a safe direction.

* Be sure of your target and beyond.

* Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

"Nothing can ruin a hunt more than a friend, family member or yourself being hurt by not following these basic safety rules," Kessler said.

Krull said he doesn't expect any more changes at this point, but encouraged hunters to double-check the regulations.

"If you have questions, call, do research, do checking online to make sure you have the most current information available," he said.

Visit dnr.wi.gov and search "hunting regulations" or "deer" or gowild.wi.gov for more information.

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