The Shooting Range
sure, many hunters are content gunning for deer. But from snipe to porcupine, there’s a lot more than that to hunt in Wisconsin.
Bagging a big buck is the stuff of many Wisconsin hunters’ dreams, and the annual fall deer hunt (and its muzzle-loader, antlerless, archery, and other variations) is deeply ingrained in our state’s culture.
Yet despite all this emphasis on Bambi’s family, hunting in Wisconsin doesn’t begin and end with the white-tailed deer. In fact, deer are just one the many animals you can legally hunt in the Badger State (just don’t hunt actual badgers, please). As long as you’ve got a small game license, some of these critters are fair game (pun intended!) year-round. Others require special permits or stamps. Hunting is subject to reams of regulations, so please check with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (dnr.wi.gov) before hunting, hooking, or trapping anything.
That being said, here’s a breakdown of Wisco animals you can put on your plate or mount for your wall – if you’ve got good aim.
There are spring and fall hunting seasons for these would-be Thanksgiving entrées. You’ll need a turkey permit, a turkey stamp, and a turkey license.
Bear hunting permits are in high demand: Depending on where you live, you might wait anywhere from one to nine years for one. That should give you time to mentally prepare for stalking a beast that could tip the scales at 700 pounds!
The fuzzy mammals are most desired for their fur, but we suppose you can eat ’em too – as long as you don’t mind the onslaught of Jeff Foxworthy-style jokes. (Possum, we’re told, tastes like chicken.)
- Fox (red and gray)
Small Game Mammals
A small game permit is all you need to hunt these guys, because – well – they’re small game. (Oh, and you should pay attention to the seasons, too.)
- Squirrels (gray and fox)
- Snowshoe hare
- Cottontail rabbit
The DNR defines “unprotected species” as “mammals and birds that can be hunted year-round without bag limits or hunting hours restrictions.” All you need is a small game license. (To learn more, visit dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/smgame.html.) These species include:
- English (house) sparrow
- Chukar partridge
- Coturnix quail
- Feral pigs
Want to turn feathered friends into your feathered enemies? Here are game birds that are legal to hunt in Wisconsin as long as you’ve got a small game license.
- Pheasant (you need a pheasant stamp, too)
- Ruffed grouse
- Gray (Hungarian) partridge
- Bobwhite quail
Migratory Game Birds
Some game birds come and go from the state (kinda like beaked and feathered tourists). For these you’ll need a small game license and must be enrolled in the Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (see dnr.wi.gov for info on that).
- Mourning dove
- Sora rail
- Virginia rail
Tired of playing Duck Hunt on your Wii? Try shooting one of the real things (check with the DNR for the appropriate permits and stamps, of course).
Meanwhile, these animals are ALWAYS off limits:
Badger, bats, Canada lynx, cougar, flying squirrel, jack rabbit, pine marten, moose, white or albino deer, and wolverine. (Woodchucks are usually off limits, too, unless you’re a landowner and they’re causing damage.) Black rat snakes, bull snakes, timber rattlesnakes, and yellow-bellied (blue) racers are also off-limits, as are all wild birds not specifically mentioned in hunting, trapping, and migratory game bird regulations. Oh, and wolves are out, too – at least for now.