FITCHBURG (WKOW) -- The Wisconsin Department of Natural resources is celebrating the state's long tradition of gun deer season with a look back at some of the milestones that have happened since 1851:
1834 – Lafayette County, first reported crop damage by deer.
1851 – First closed season for deer, Feb. 1 – June 30; Indians permitted to hunt anytime.
1876 – Hunting with dogs prohibited statewide.
1887 – Two game wardens appointed by governor at a monthly salary of $50; night hunting prohibited statewide.
1888 – Game laws published in pamphlet form.
1890 – First chief warden appointed.
1892 – Lawful to kill any dog running or hunting deer.
1895 – Sheboygan first county closed to deer hunting; deer cannot be transported unless accompanied by hunter; last October deer season in state.
1897 – First bag limit for deer, two per season; resident license costs $1, nonresident license costs $30; estimated license sales total 12,000.
1900 – Twelve hunters killed by firearms.
1903 – Estimated 78,164 licenses sold.
1905 – Salt licks prohibited.
1909 – Season 20 days long, limit one deer; first civil service exam given on a competitive basis for prospective wardens.
1910 – Deer populations drop to record low numbers due to unregulated hunting and market shooting.
1914 – Twenty-four hunters killed, 26 injured; license sales at 155,000
1915 – First buck only season.
1917 – Shining deer illegal while possessing a firearm; Conservation Commission delegated some powers related to deer season, but legislature retains authority to set seasons; deer tags (paper) required for the first time…they cost 10 cents.
1919 – Estimated kill is 25,152.
1920 – First use of metal deer tags…they cost 10 cents.
1921 – Wardens are instructed that “all deer found in possession…with horns less than three inches in length, is a fawn and should be confiscated.”
1924 – Estimated kill is 7000.
1925 – Legislature passes law closing deer season in alternate years.
1927 – No open season.
1928 – Deer hunters required to wear official conservation button while hunting; Game Division formed with Conservation Department; estimated kill is 17,000 with 69,049 deer tags sold.
1929 – No open season.
1930 – Estimated kill is 23,000 with 70.284 deer tags sold.
1931 – No open season.
1932 – Deer tag price is raised to $1; estimated kill is 36,009 with 70,245 deer tags sold.
1933 – No open season; Conservation Congress, an advisory group representing public opinion registered at annual county hearings, begins to assist the Conservation Commission in establishing a deer management policy.
1934 – First bow deer season; estimated gun kill is 21,251 with 83,939 deer tags sold.
1935 – No open season.
1937 – Shortest deer season on record, three days.
1938 – Use of .22 rifle and .410 shotgun prohibited.
1939 – Licensed children between ages 12 and 16 must be accompanied by parent or guardian; buckshot prohibited statewide.
1941 – Deer predators rare, timber wolves nearing extinction; estimated gun kill is 40,403 with 124,305 deer tags sold.
1942 – Back tags required while deer hunting.
1943 – First doe and fawn season in 24 years.
1945 – First year of ‘shotgun only’ counties; wearing red clothing required while hunting deer.
1950 – First ‘any deer’ season since 1919; estimated gun kill is 167,911 with 312,570 deer tags sold.
1951 – Deer hunting license and tag cost $2.50; orange clothing now included under red clothing law; Wisconsin leads nation in whitetail deer kill for third consecutive year.
1953 – First season gun deer hunters required to register deer at checking station.
1954 – Two-thirds of bucks harvested are less than three years old; portions of Walworth and Waukesha Counties and all of Jefferson County open for the first time since 1906.
1956 – 100th established gun deer season; registered gun kill is 35,562 with 294,645 deer tags sold.
1957 – Legislature authorizes party permit.
1958 – Longest deer season since 1916, 16 days; Rock County open for the first time since 1906; first harvest by deer management unit (in northwest and northeast only); registered gun kill is 95,234, of which 44,987 taken by party permit; 335,866 deer tags and 58,348 party permits sold, respectively.
1959 – First statewide deer registration by unit; Game Management Division of Conservation Department assumes responsibility for coordinating the state’s deer program; first open season in Kenosha County since 1906.
1960 – Hunter not permitted to buy a license after opening day of gun season; Green and Racine Counties open for the first time since 1906; all counties now open except Milwaukee; registered gun kill is 61,005, of which 25,515 taken by party permit; 338,208 deer tags and 47,522 party permits sold, respectively.
1961 – Resident big game license increased from $4 to $5; first use of SAK – sex-age-kill population-reconstruction technique for estimating deer numbers; hunters required to transport deer openly while driving to registration station; legislation authorizing unit specific quotas for antlerless harvest established.
1962 – Deer population above 400,000; deer management unit specific population goals established.
1963 – First year of quota party permits in eight management units; assassination of President Kennedy lessens hunting pressure.
1964 – Party permit quota extended to 32 management units.
1967 – Hunter Safety Education Program begins.
1970 – Registered gun kill is 72,844 with 501,799 licenses sold; 13 hunters killed.
1973 – No deer season fatalities.
1978 – Record registered gun kill is 150,845 with 644,594 licenses sold.
1980 – Blaze orange clothing required; first season of Hunter’s Choice permit; new law prohibits shining wild animals from 10pm to 7pm, Sept. 15 – Dec. 31; coyote season closed in northern management units to protect nascent wolf population.
1981 – Record registered deer kill of 166,673 with 629,034 licenses sold.
1982 – Another record registered gun kill of 182,715 with 637,320 licenses sold; three deer season fatalities.
1983 – Harvest continues to rise with another record registered gun kill of 197,600 with 649,972 licenses sold; experimental antlerless deer shunt in six southern management units to relieve crop damage.
1984 – Big jump in registered kill, fourth record harvest in a row of 255,726 with license sales totaling 657,969; handgun deer hunting allowed in shotgun areas; group hunting legalized.
1985 – Fifth consecutive record kill of 274,302 with 670,329 licenses sold; deer season extended in 21 management units; legislature further strengthens road hunting restrictions.
1986 – Gun deer season now nine days statewide; landowner preference program begins for Hunter’s Choice permits.
1987 – First year of bonus antlerless permits; seven fatalities and 46 hunting accidents.
1988 – Handguns permitted statewide.
1989 – Record registered harvest of 310,192 with 662,280 licenses sold; pre-hunt herd estimate of 1.15 million deer; two fatalities and 37 hunting accidents.
1990 – Another record kill of 350,040, including 209,005 antlerless deer; record license sales of 699,275; pre-hunt herd estimate of 1.3 million deer; season extended for seven days in 67 management units.
1991 – Third consecutive year of record harvest, 352,330; hunters allowed to buy more than one antlerless permit; season extended to 72 management units, mostly in the north; first year of separate, seven-day muzzleloader season; salt licks legalized.
1992 – Though kill fourth highest on record, 288,820, many hunters voice discontent over lack of success and claim DNR raised expectations by pre-hunt harvest prediction of around 370,000; hunters allowed to apply for bonus antlerless permits in more than one unit; Natural Resources Board approves Secretary’s recommendation to keep the gun season at nine days; new metro management units established around La Crosse, Madison and Milwaukee.
1993 – Harvest drops to 217,584, including 100,977 antlerless deer; pre-hunt herd population at 1 million with many units well below prescribed goals; 34 units, mainly in the north, designated as buck-only units; one fatality, 17 hunting accidents.
1994 – Hunters Choice permit availability jumps to 177,340 from 103,140 in 1993; six northwest management units remain buck only; herd beginning to build-up in southern agricultural range.
1995 – Harvest totals 398,002, a new state record; 32 accidents, one fatal; over 577,000 antlerless permits available with 414,000 plus applicants with 163,000 bonus permits offered to hunters; for the first time hunters can use their bonus or Hunter’s Choice permits in either the gun, bow or muzzleloader seasons.
1996 – ‘Earn a Buck” requirement placed on hunters in 19 deer management units situated in agricultural range where existing deer seasons and permit systems aren’t controlling herd growth; special four-day antlerless only season, state’s first October hunt since 1897, takes place in 19 ‘Earn a Buck’ units, resulting in a kill of 24,954 deer.
1997 – ‘Earn a Buck’ provision scuttled; early Zone T season in seven management units and three state parks results in over 7000 deer killed; the safest gun season even with one fatality and 10 accidents.
1998 – An early October gun season for third year in a row held in one management unit, 67A; harvest of 332,254 is fifth highest; accidents total 19 with two fatalities; most units in all regions of the state estimated to be above prescribed goals due to the mild winter of 1997-98.
1999 – Early antlerless Zone T deer season held in seven mainly east-central management units and one state park; early archery season is extended through Nov. 18 in Zone T units; pre-hunt herd estimate is 1.5 to 1.6 million deer; 33 management units in the central and southern part of the state are designated ‘watch unit’s that are above population goals and may be designated as Zone T units next year if quota numbers aren’t filled; resident deer license costs $20; non-resident license costs $135; record harvest of 402,204 deer.
2000 – Early four-day Zone T antlerless hunts produces kill of 66,417 deer; 97 of the state’s 132 deer management units listed as Zone T; two free antlerless permits given to all hunters buying deer-related licenses; hunters kill a record 528,494 deer during the early antlerless only, nine-day, muzzleloader and late antlerless only gun seasons; nine-day gun harvest totals a record 442,581 (170,865 antlered, 271,573 antlerless); 694,957 licensed gun hunters.
2001 – Wisconsin’s pre-hunt population estimated at 1.5 million deer; free antlerless permit given to all hunters buying deer-related licenses; 67 deer management units and nine state parks designated as Zone T; October and December four-day, Zone T antlerless hunts results in kill of 58,107 deer; nine-day gun harvest is the state’s fifth largest, totaling 361,264 (141,942 antlered, 219,260 antlerless); chronic wasting disease (CWD) later identified in three deer harvested in the Dane County Town of Vermont.
2002 – Herd estimate at 1.34 million deer; DNR samples about 41,000 deer during the early Zone T antlerless hunt (Oct. 24-27) and opening weekend (Nov. 23-24) of the nine-day gun season to determine if CWD is present anywhere else in the state besides the Disease Eradication Zone in southwest Wisconsin; expanded hunting opportunities set-up in the CWD Management Zone and a gun deer season slated for Oct. 24 to Jan. 31 in the CWD Eradication Zone; October and November four-day, Zone T antlerless hunts in 25 deer management units produce a harvest of 36,228 deer; hunters register 277,755 deer during the traditional, nine-day season; number of licensed gun hunters drops about 10 percent with much of the decrease attributed to concerns about CWD; baiting illegal statewide in response to discovery of CWD.
2003 – Fall deer population estimated at 1.4 million; landowners in CWD Disease Eradication Zone (DEZ) can request free permits to harvest deer without a license and receive two buck tags per permit; earn-a-buck (EAB) rules in effect and no bag limits on deer in the CWD management zones; deer hunting license sales up 14 percent over 2002, but down 13 percent when compared to 2001; overall, DNR collects 15,025 samples for disease surveillance with 115 wild deer testing positive for CWD; all but two positives are from the Disease Eradication zones (DEZ) of southwest Wisconsin and Rock County; hunters killed 388,344 deer during the early antlerless only, nine-day gun, muzzleloader and land antlerless only deer seasons; salt, along with other legal types of bait again allowed outside of the 26 counties in or near CWD Zones, but bait (including salt) limited to two gallons.
2004 – Many deer management units (DMU’s) in all regions of the state estimated to be above prescribed management goals with 48 DMU’s designated as Zone T and 26 units as EAB; fall deer population estimated at 1.7 million deer; hunters issued one free antlerless permit for each license type (archery or gun) up to a maximum of two; during all seasons, hunters in the CWD DEZ and much larger Herd Reduction Zone (HRZ) are required to kill an antlerless deer before harvesting a buck; hunters kill 413,794 deer during the early antlerless only, nine-day gun, muzzle loader, late antlerless only and CWD zone deer seasons; eight gun deer hunting accidents documented with two fatalities; all accidents are either self-inflicted or shooter and victim were in the same party; hunters set a new record of venison donations by giving 10,938 deer yielding nearly 500,000 pounds of venison for food pantries to feed needy people across the state.
2005 – Forty-five DMU’s designated as Zone T units with unlimited antlerless permits and expanded gun hunting opportunities; hunters issued free antlerless permits for both archery and gun licenses; permits valid in any Zone T and CWD units; hunters in CWD units could get an unlimited number of antlerless permits at the rate of four per day; hunters harvest 387,310 deer during the early October, regular gun, late December and muzzleloader seasons combined, the eighth highest kill on record; 195,735 deer harvested during the opening weekend (Nov. 19-20) of the nine-day gun season; gun deer sales total 643,676, down one percent from 2004; DNR conducts CWD surveillance survey in the agency’s Northeast Region where 4500 deer are tested and CWD not detected; 14 accidents, including three fatals, during the nine-day season (Nov. 19-27); top five gun deer harvest counties – all located in central Wisconsin – are Marathon (15,871), Clark (13,918), Waupaca (12,260), Shawano (11,748) and Jackson (11,461).
2006 – Statewide harvest quota totals 469,385 antlerless deer; over 1 million antlerless deer permits issued to reach this quota; all hunters issued one free antlerless permit for each license type (bow and gun) with permits valid in any Herd Control, EAB and CWD units; hunters kill the fifth highest gun total (393,306) during the youth, regular gun, late December and muzzleloader seasons combined; 10 accidents, one fatal, with five self-inflicted and five with shooter and victim in the same party.
2007 – Again, over 1 million antlerless deer permits issued and all hunters again get one free antlerless permit for each license type valid in any Herd Control, EAB and CWD units; nine-day gun season (Nov. 17-25) earliest possible opening day under the current season structure; 402,563 deer killed during all gun seasons is the third highest total on record, surpassed only by 2000 (528,494) and 2004 (413,794).
2008 – 57 DMU’s under EAB regulations and hunters must “earn” a buck sticker authorizing them to shoot a buck by first killing an antlerless deer; 51 DMU’s are on the EAB “watch list” meaning they could be designated as EAB units in 2009 if a sufficient number of antlerless deer aren’t harvested; most of southern Wisconsin lies within the new CWD-Management Zone (CWD-MZ) boundary and rifles can be used to hunt deer in previously shotgun only areas of the CWD Zone; traditional gun season runs from Nov. 22-30, the second latest possible opening day under the current nine-day season; hunting conditions considered above average throughout the state for most of the nine-day season; over 642,000 licensed hunters kill 352,601 deer during all gun seasons (103,845 antlered & 248,756 antlerless); nine accidents, one fatal, all either self inflicted or shooter and victim in the same party, during the nine-day season.
2009 – The 158th deer season: no EAB except in CWD-MZ; 13 DMU’s in northern Wisconsin will have an old fashioned buck only gun season due to units being below overwinter goal; all deer baiting & feeding banned in 28 counties; wildlife officials predicting a lower deer harvest than in 2008; movement of whole deer carcasses and certain parts of carcasses restricted from the CWD-MZ to elsewhere in the state; new Mentored Hunting Program permits a licensed hunter 18 years or older to take out anyone 10 years and older for a hunt.