10 things to know as you go afield this fall
A number of rules have changed this fall in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. Here are the highlights.
1. A new deer-hunting season in Minnesota. As announced earlier this fall, the state will hold an antlerless deer season the weekend of Oct. 11-12 in four deer management units around and north of Duluth. The units are 178, 180, 181 and 182. This is a firearms season aimed at bringing down deer populations deemed too high. Your regular firearms deer license will work for this season, but you'll need to buy special antlerless-only permits specifically for this hunt. They're $7.50 each, available at license outlets, and they're good for this hunt only.
2. Yes, bowhunters will have to wear blaze orange that weekend in those areas. If you plan to bowhunt in those permit areas (see No. 1) on Oct. 11-12, you'll need to follow the firearms deer hunting requirements for wearing blaze orange, which means blaze orange "on the visible portion of your cap and outer clothing above the waist, excluding sleeves." Blaze-orange camouflage of at last 50 percent blaze orange in each square foot is legal.
3. Yes, small-game hunters will have to follow the same blaze-orange requirements that weekend in those areas. Instead of the usual "one article of clothing above the waist" in blaze orange, if you're hunting grouse or other small game in those permit areas (see No. 1), you'll have to follow the blaze-orange requirements for firearms deer hunting (see No. 2) Exempt from the blaze orange requirement during the antlerless deer hunt in these permit areas are migratory waterfowl hunters on waters and in a stationary location. Also, trappers on water are exempt.
4. New Minnesota deer license choices this fall. Gone are the all-season buck license and the multi-zone buck license. Now you buy your deer licenses a la carte -- one for bowhunting season, one for firearms season, one for muzzleloader season.
5. More opportunities for young hunters -- In Minnesota, a person 10 or 11 may take big game without a license or firearms safety certificate if he or she is under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian who is within immediate reach and licensed to take the big game. Big game taken by the 10- or 11-year-old must be tagged with the parent or guardian's license.
6. No more validating deer licenses. If you are fortunate enough to shoot a deer in Minnesota this fall, you won't have to validate your deer license. But you'll still need to validate your site tag at the site of kill.
7. Deer baiting clarified. The wording of Minnesota's baiting law has been fine-tuned. It's on page 71 of the 2008 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook.
8. Early antlerless deer hunt in Wisconsin. After a two-year moratorium and not enough antlerless deer taken, Wisconsin's early antlerless deer hunt returns in Herd Control units. Nearly all units in Northwestern Wisconsin are Herd Control units. The four-day antlerless hunt will be Oct. 16-19. Hunters may use any Antlerless Deer Carcass Tags valid in Herd Control units. The permits, $2 each, are unlimited. A December antlerless hunt (Dec. 11-14) also will be held again this year.
9. Blaze-orange requirement on Wisconsin ground blinds. Blaze orange (a minimum of 144 square inches) is required on ground blinds on Department of Natural Resources-controlled lands during any gun or muzzleloader deer season, and the blaze orange must be visible 360 degrees around the blind. Also, ground blinds must be identified with the owner's DNR customer-ID number or name and address when not occupied during the day.
10. Donating deer heads for CWD research in Wisconsin. Hunters in 18 northern Wisconsin counties will be encouraged but not required to donate adult deer heads this fall. A sample of 500 heads from each county is required for CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) surveillance. Hunters donating deer heads will be able to keep the antlers.