Wild Things: No Buck Hunting During ‘Doe’ Seasons

Antlerless-only hunts Dec. 8-11 and Dec. 24-Jan. 1

by KEVIN NAZE, [email protected], Peninsula Pulse contributor

If you’re an archery or crossbow deer hunter with sights set on harvesting a buck, you can’t do it over the holiday break.

That’s because both Door and Kewaunee counties are included in the Dec. 24-Jan.1 antlerless-only firearm deer season held in many farmland management zones. 

Blaze orange or pink will be the colors of the day the remainder of the four-day antlerless deer gun hunt that began Thursday and ends Sunday, as well as during the nine-day holiday hunt.

Updated numbers of deer registered by hunters through last weekend showed 3,492 already trimmed from the Door County herd this season. Combined with the 2,598 reported by Kewaunee County hunters, that’s 6,090 whitetails from the K/D Peninsula since the bow seasons began in mid-September. 

The numbers include 2,408 deer harvested in Door and 1,799 in KC during the nine-day gun hunt, up slightly from the preliminary count released last week. 

Other counts include for Door and Kewaunee counties respectively: 268 and 228 with bow; 672 and 427 with crossbow; 111 and 107 in the youth gun hunt; and 33 and 37 through the first half of the muzzleloader deer season, which ended Wednesday.  

Door County hunters had tallied 1,710 antlered bucks and 1,782 antlerless, compared to 1,171 and 1,427 in Kewaunee.

Statewide, more than 5,000 deer (2,007 bucks) were reported during the first five days of the muzzleloader season, helping boost the season total to 309,186. The breakdown included 159,320 bucks and 149,866 antlerless deer.

Apply For Bear, Turkey Tags 

Hunters have only until 11:59 pm Saturday, Dec. 10 to apply for or purchase preference points for spring wild turkey and fall black bear tags.

That can be done at any authorized agent, or online at or through the Hunt Wild app for Android or Apple.

Turkey and black bear harvest authorizations are issued through a preference-based drawing system. Applicants need to apply for a certain zone they would like to hunt. 

For the turkey tags, you can choose up to two time period and zone combinations. In case you’re not drawn for one of those, it’s important to make a third choice for one zone in which you’d accept a harvest authorization for whatever period has them available. 

Those who don’t select a third choice might not get a tag, joining those who forget to apply in time. They’ll then need to wait to see what leftover tags are available for purchase in March. Bonus harvest authorizations will cost $10 for residents and $15 for non-residents.

All turkey hunters must possess a valid spring turkey license and wild turkey stamp when they acquire their spring turkey harvest authorization. A 2023 spring turkey license is $15 for Wisconsin residents and $60 for non-residents. The 2023 wild turkey stamp is $5.25. Licenses will go on sale March 1.

Some Learn To Hunt programs might begin earlier, but the regular season starts with a Youth Hunt April 15-16 and is followed by six seven-day hunt periods beginning April 19 and ending May 30.

Meanwhile, with a growing interest in bear hunting and a limited number of licenses, be sure to review management zone boundaries and license wait times when planning your application.

Bear permit applicants need to apply at least once during any period of three consecutive years to retain their accumulated preference points. If an applicant is selected in the drawing, their preference points will be reset to zero, even if they do not purchase the harvest permit.

Preliminary estimates show hunters harvested about 4,100 bears during the 2022 hunting season. 

Those using trailing hounds in Zones A, B and D get the earlier start next year, Sept. 6. Those using bait in those zones can start a week later. Zones C, E and F don’t allow the use of trailing hounds, so baiters can start there Sept. 6.

Sand Bay guide Dale Stroschein skipped hunting this year and enjoyed some very good late-season fishing for smallmouth bass (shown) and walleyes in Door County. Submitted.

More Hunt and Fish

There’s been some very good open water fishing action in recent weeks, with perch, bass and walleyes hitting on Green Bay and northern pike, trout and coho in the Ahnapee River.

The 10-day forecast shows little chance for any early ice activity, with highs in the low 40s possible early next week. 

Meanwhile, the southern and northern zone duck-hunting seasons are now closed, but the open-water duck zone remains open through Dec. 13. 

Canada goose-hunting season in the local southern zone closed Dec. 4, but reopens Dec. 18 and runs through Jan. 3. The northern zone season closes Dec. 16.

Wild turkeys are legal through Jan. 8 in zones 1-5. That’s the same end date as the pheasant and Zone A ruffed grouse hunts. Zone B grouse hunting ended Dec. 8.

New this year, gray and fox squirrel hunting runs through Feb. 28, the same end date as cottontail rabbit hunting.

Weekly Water Levels

As of Dec. 2, Lake Michigan and Green Bay water levels were four inches lower than last month and nine inches below last December, but still five inches above the 100-year average. Water levels were 31 inches below the record high, set in 1986, and 34 inches above the record monthly low, set in 2012. A three-inch drop is predicted over the next month.