Most hunters have reported great conditions in the woods for the nine-day gun deer hunt so far this year, according to Department of Natural Resources warden supervisor Dave Walz. Walz said the hunters he talked with were also happy with the numbers of deer they have been seeing.  

Several big bucks made lethal mistakes in both Vilas and Oneida counties on opening weekend, to the delight of many hunters. Infractions over opening weekend seemed to be few, but, as always, there are a few things to remember or to think about.

Hunters should be sure to register their deer by 5 p.m. the day after it is harvested. There is a list of in-person registration stations on the DNR website It can be found by typing “deer hunting” into the search box on any page of the website. Alternatively, deer can be registered by calling 1-844-GAME-REG or online through the “Go Wild” system. Go Wild has proven to be very popular with hunters since its roll out.

Carcass movement rules have not changed since 2017. An emergency rule was passed, but then suspended which would have changed those rules on Oct. 1, during the archery hunt. The 2017 rules for carcass movement apply for this year’s hunting season. Those rules are as follows:

Both whole wild deer carcasses and certain parts of the carcass from CWD-affected counties can be moved within the affected county or an adjacent county. However, the whole carcass or any parts of that carcass may be taken anywhere in the state if taken to a licensed taxidermist or meat processor within 72 hours of registration. These businesses must follow strict rules regarding disposal of those carcasses and, as such, are excluded from the rule.

Also, deer heads transported for the purposes of being tested for CWD are allowed to be moved throughout the state. However, once the lymph nodes have been removed for sampling, the deer head must be properly disposed of. 

Deer parts that may be moved

• Meat that is cut and wrapped (either commercially or privately).

• Quarters or other portions of meat to which no part of the spinal column is attached.

• Meat that has been deboned.

• Hides with no heads attached.

• Finished taxidermy heads.

• Antlers with no tissue attached.

• Clean skull plates with no lymphoid or brain tissue attached.

• Clean skulls with no lymphoid or brain tissue attached.

• Upper canine teeth (also known as buglers, whistlers or ivories).

CWD testing is free and available to all hunters. Self-Service kiosks are available for hunters who wish to have their deer tested for the disease. These kiosks are a great 24/7 option for hunters looking to get their deer tested. They simply place the deer head with a hands’ width of the neck still attached into the kiosk freezer with the customer data sheet. Antlers, however, will need to be removed from bucks. Heads should be brought in within five days, as long as they have been kept cool. With the weather we are experiencing, leaving the heads outside will keep them cool enough to get a viable sample. 

Once the deer has been tested, the hunter will receive notice whether or not the deer has the disease. While there is no evidence the disease can mutate and infect humans, the health department advises not eating meat or organs from an animal known to have CWD, or from any sick animal. 

The DNR service center in Rhinelander, the DNR Rangler station in Eagle River, TJ’s Butcher Block in Minocqua and the Three Lakes Shell station all have self-service kiosks available. A full list of kiosks can be found on the DNR website.

Some areas, such as near the Wisconsin River in Oneida and Lincoln County, will have CWD surveillance tags available hunters on public lands. The tags are weapon-specific and give authorization for the harvest of an either sex adult deer. 

One condition of receiving a CWD surveillance permit is that any deer taken with one of those authorizations must be tested for CWD. CWD has been found in the wild for the first time this year in Oneida and Lincoln Counties along the Wisconsin River. This is a great cause for concern for many and the DNR and the County Deer Advisory Committees would like to ask hunters for their cooperation in getting enough deer tested this year to attempt to understand the scope of the possible problem on the landscape.

Feeding and baiting of deer are still banned in most counties in the Northwoods. This is the number one infraction seen on opening weekend, according to DNR wardens. The feeding and baiting ban in Oneida and Vilas Counties is still in effect this year and hunters found baiting deer will be fined.

Beckie Gaskill may be reached via email at