Hunters in all or parts of 31 Wisconsin counties can target whitetails through the end of January, thanks to an extended bow and crossbow hunt.
County Deer Advisory Councils (CDACs) had the option of whether or not to have the longer season, and could only do so if they had a holiday antlerless gun deer hunt.
CDACs in Brown, Door, Kewaunee and Manitowoc counties were among those to approve the extended season.
Currently, all hunters here (except those after Canada geese) must comply with blaze orange or pink clothing rules until the end of shooting hours Jan. 1, when the holiday hunt ends.
It was a weak start to the nine-day antlerless-only gun deer hunt, with only 357 deer registered Christmas Eve or Christmas, including just four in Brown County, five in Kewaunee and six in Door.
Archers and crossbow hunters must wait until Jan. 2 to target an antlered buck.
Through Christmas, crossbow users statewide had registered 52,616 whitetails, including 32,613 bucks. Archers had tallied 34,528 deer, including 21,131 bucks.
The all-seasons 2023 fall deer harvest stood at 146,296 bucks and 138,007 antlerless deer for a total of 284,303. That included 3,485 deer (1,704 bucks) in Door County, 2,569 (1,356 bucks) in Brown County, and 2,730 (1,300 bucks) in KC.
For a complete look at all the fall and winter hunting season dates and regulations, visit dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/hunt/regulations.
Take a Hike
A number of First Day Hikes are taking place around the region Monday, including at Newport, Peninsula and Whitefish Dunes State Parks in Door County, and Point Beach State Forest in Manitowoc County.
At Peninsula, the 1.5-mile hike begins at 10 am. Meet at the White Cedar Nature Center for free hot chocolate and snacks inside and a warming fire outside. The 45-minute guided hike will take you over mostly level terrain with some slight elevation changes.
Whitefish Dunes’ hike also begins at 10 am. The picnic shelter will be open from 10 am – noon, with a warming fire and refreshments available.
At Newport, the hike will be 1.2 miles and guided on the Fern Trail Loop. A two-mile hike is optional. Meet at Parking Lot 3 at 1 pm. Free hot chocolate and snacks will be provided by the Newport Wilderness Society, and there will be a warming fire in the outdoor fire pit.
At Point Beach, there’s a 0.75-mile self-guided hike. Meet at the lodge at 1 pm before embarking on the trail. There will be free hot chocolate and a warming fire in the lodge.
If you don’t have a pass, and want to give the parks a try, the Door County Library in Sturgeon Bay, Brown County Library in Green Bay and the Algoma and Kewaunee public libraries all participated in a program where you could check out state park and daily forest vehicle admission passes this year, but passes are limited and first-come, first-served.
Meanwhile, if conditions permit, a number of “Ski and Tea” events and snowshoe hikes are planned at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary in Green Bay this winter. Check the schedule via a link at greenbaywi.gov/1418/Bay-Beach-Wildlife-Sanctuary.
How big are fish stories in Door County? Apparently at least as big as the outstretched arms of an angler estimating the length of the one that got away, because tales involving a muskie, salmon and the men that pursue them were among the most-viewed online stories of 2023 at DoorCountyPulse.com.
The 55-inch Great Lakes strain muskie reeled in and released by Rod Hedsand of Sturgeon Bay last December was the fourth most-viewed story of the year, thanks to the eye candy provided with a great picture taken by John Vieau.
Coming in at No. 15 was a story about the love of salmon fishing and special remembrances of Bradley Jordan, and a new memorial prize in his honor for the Kewaunee/Door County Salmon Tournament.
Still No Ice
If the extended forecast is accurate, don’t expect to be ice fishing before mid-to-late January.
A number of anglers have been taking advantage of the unusually mild temperatures to target perch, walleye, brown trout and pike in the waters of Green Bay, or trout, pike and coho salmon in the Ahnapee River.
Lake Michigan water levels have dropped three inches in the past month, but are still about 31 inches above the record monthly low set in 2012.