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Wild Things: Hunt Is On for Opening-day Spots

Whitetails top target as seasons begin Sept. 17

by KEVIN NAZE, [email protected]

If you don’t own or lease hunting land, there’s a good chance you’ll be one of many hunters who are competing for a prime spot to take a stand this season. 

Even though the percentage of public land on the peninsula is much less than in northern Wisconsin, there are still thousands of acres available to explore in Door and Kewaunee counties. The three largest public parcels – the C.D. “Buzz” Besadny, Mud Lake and Gardner Swamp Wildlife Areas – combine to offer more than 6,000 acres and hold plenty of game, both large and small.

Many hunters have been scouting those and other public-access properties in anticipation of the Sept. 17 opening day for white-tailed deer, wild turkey, squirrels and other wild game species. 

As always, those who are willing to go deep into cover typically see fewer hunters, but the edges of public and private land can be good, too, especially early in the season. It can get dicey, however, if you shoot something on public land that ends up running onto or flying across into private land because it’s illegal to track or retrieve game on private property without the landowner’s permission. 

In addition to the three vast tracts already mentioned, there are thousands of acres of other lands open to hunting, either completely or for certain species at certain times of the year. 

Many county and state parks have parts of their holdings available to hunt some species; so do most land trust and conservancy properties. There is also a lot of land open under Managed Forest Law and other Department of Natural Resources programs.

The DNR’s Hunt Wild app, the onX Hunt app, and other phone apps are extremely popular for finding public-land properties and landowners’ names. 

You can also search on your computer. A good starting point is dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/lands, and there are hunting links at doorcountylandtrust.org and nature.org/en-us. For the latter, search on “Door Peninsula TNC,” click the link, and scroll down below the pictures to just above the mentions of the Northeastern Wisconsin staff. Click on a section that reads, “For more information on hunting opportunities, please see our hunting program web page.” 

Meanwhile, the early teal, early goose and mourning dove hunts opened Sept. 1, and black bear hunting opened Sept. 7 in many areas. Early teal closes Sept. 9 and early goose Sept. 15, though the regular goose hunt starts the next morning. 

Archery and crossbow deer, youth waterfowl, wild turkey, squirrel, crow, Zone A ruffed grouse and Northern Zone cottontail rabbit hunts all begin Sept. 17.

Coyote hunting is allowed year-round. Additionally, any nuisance species may be shot all year – including starling, English (house) sparrow, opossum, skunk, woodchuck and porcupine – and landowners and family members may hunt or trap on their own property year-round for rabbit, squirrel, fox, raccoon, woodchuck, beaver and coyote.

Check out all the regulations on the Hunt Wild app, or the print version is available wherever licenses are sold and online at widnr.widen.net/s/pdq5r2sdqc/2022wi_huntregulations.

Comment on Stocking

A three-hour public meeting on Lake Michigan fisheries and salmon- and trout-stocking plans for 2023-25 lured dozens of anglers in person and more online Aug. 30.

Anyone who missed the in-person or Zoom presentation can find links to everything shown at dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Fishing/lakemichigan/LakeMichiganSalmonandTroutMeetings.html. A 30-day public-comment period is underway, ending Oct. 1.

Bonus Deer Tags

Local deer hunters are again receiving free antlerless deer permits with each bow or crossbow and gun deer hunting license, but it’s not that way in the Northern or Central Forest zones. There, you’ll need to have purchased a bonus antlerless permit for either public or private land. 

Some units are already sold out, but plenty of permits remain in others. Bonus tags cost $12 for residents, $20 for nonresidents or $5 for youth 11 and younger. A list of units that still have bonus antlerless harvest authorizations is available at dnr.wisconsin.gov/permits/bonusavailability.html.

It’s Ladies’ Night

The Northeastern Wisconsin Ladies Chapter of Whitetails Unlimited is holding its annual banquet Sept. 22 at Stadium View Sports Bar & Grill in Green Bay. To get tickets or more information, call Jan at 920.494.5291.

Meanwhile, the Kewaunee County Chapter of Whitetails Unlimited is holding its annual banquet Oct. 11 at the Rendezvous near Luxemburg. Credit-card reservations can be made at whitetailsunlimited.com/events/banquets or by calling 800.274.5471. You can also get tickets and more information from field director Jay Newton at 920.960.9594, 9 am – 6 pm.

Weekly Water Levels

As of Sept. 2, Lake Michigan water levels were down two inches from early August, nine inches from last September and 24 inches below the monthly record, set in 1986. Levels were nine inches above the 100-year average. The lake level is projected to drop another three inches by early October.