MADISON – The first of the 2005 gun deer hunting seasons is set to open on Oct. 27 with antlerless deer only hunts in deer management units that are designated as Zone T and in southern Wisconsin’s Chronic Wasting Disease zones. An annual youth deer hunt will take place on Oct. 29.

Zone T antlerless deer hunt The four-day Oct. 27-30 Zone T antlerless deer only hunt will take place in 45 deer management units (DMUs) outside of the CWD zones. Units are designated as Zone T when wildlife managers project that the traditional deer season framework would not reduce the deer populations to within 20 percent of that unit’s over winter (or post-hunt) population goal. Many of the units in this year’s hunt are Zone T for the second year in a row.

“Thirty-eight Zone T units are on a watch list and could be recommended for Earn-a-Buck in 2006,” said Keith Warnke, DNR deer and bear biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “These units are in their second year of Zone T status. Strong antlerless kills are needed in all Zone T and quota units to get deer populations headed toward established population goals.”

In 2005, the second-year Zone T units are: 22A, 23, 24, 25, 27, 46, 47, 51A, 51B, 54B, 54C, 57, 57B, 59B, 59C, 59M, 60M, 61, 62A, 62B, 63A, 63B, 64, 64M, 65A, 65B, 66, 67A, 67B, 68A, 68B, 74A, 77C, 77M, 78, 80A, 80B, 81.

Earlier in the year, the Natural Resources Board declined to designate any deer management units outside of the CWD zones as Earn-a-Buck for 2005 but indicated that it would consider designating units Earn-a-Buck again in 2006.

A new deer harvest data collection system will keep track of hunters registering antlerless deer from this year’s Zone T units, giving those hunters a leg-up on earning a buck tag for the following year if the unit they hunt in becomes Earn-a-Buck next season.

“Thanks to the new system, hunters shooting and registering a deer from a Zone T unit this fall will be prequalified for a buck tag the following year, if that unit becomes Earn-a-Buck,” said Warnke. “So concentrating on antlerless deer in Zone T units accomplishes two things, it reduces the likelihood that the unit will become EAB in the following year and if it does, hunters taking an antlerless deer from the unit this fall will have already earned their buck tag for that unit or for any other EAB unit in the state.”

The prospect of hunting during milder end-of-October conditions is popular with many hunters and combined with the annual Youth Deer Hunt on Oct. 29 makes it the second most popular deer season, second only to the traditional nine-day November season according to wildlife officials. Zone T was first implemented in 1996.

CWD Zones Oct. 27 also marks the start of the Earn-a-Buck portion of the deer hunting seasons in the CWD zones of southern Wisconsin. Starting on Oct. 27, hunters may harvest deer in the following ways.

In the Herd Reduction Zone

  • Earn-a-Buck firearm hunting runs Oct. 27 – 30
  • Either sex firearm hunting resumes Nov. 19 – Jan. 3
  • Earn-a-Buck archery hunting runs Oct. 27 – Nov. 18
  • Either sex archery hunting resumes Nov. 19 – Jan. 3

NOTE: All hunters with the exception of waterfowl hunters must wear blaze orange during the Oct. 27-30 and Nov. 19-Jan. 3 periods

In the Disease Eradication Zone

  • Earn-a-Buck firearm hunting runs Oct. 27 – Nov. 13
  • Either sex firearm hunting resumes Nov. 19 – Jan. 3
  • Earn-a-Buck archery hunting runs Oct. 27 – Nov. 18
  • Either sex archery hunting resumes Nov. 19 – Jan. 3

NOTE: All hunters with the exception of waterfowl hunters must wear blaze orange during the Oct. 27- Nov. 13 and Nov. 19-Jan. 3 periods