Three natural frontiers of the North American landscape merge in Wisconsin: the boreal forest extends from the north, the great hardwood forest advances from the east, and dry grasslands sweep in from the west. This mix of forest, grassland, prairie, wetland, lake and barren, coulee and farmland provides varied habitat for abundant wildlife.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) leads the state's stewardship effort with modern management techniques and a commitment to environmental protection. Their efforts, partnered with those of Wisconsin sportsmen, have done much to develop and maintain quality populations of birds and animals for hunting, while enhancing the natural world in which we all live.
Wisconsin's signature big-game animal is the white-tailed deer. There is no doubt that these magnificent animals provide a wonderful resource to watch or hunt. The Wisconsin DNR is committed to managing this big-game resource to maintain a healthy, ecologically balanced and sustainable deer herd. Find more about deer hunting in Wisconsin here. The WDNRs Wild Wisconsin series offers videos and podcasts to help you prepare for the hunt.
Black bear populations are thriving and spreading across the Wisconsin landscape. Seeing a black bear in the wild is an exciting experience for many and an equal thrill for those who prize the black bear as a big game species. Learn more about the bear hunt in Wisconsin here.
Once native to Wisconsin, wild turkeys were hunted to extinction here in 1881. But today, they are again delighting wildlife enthusiasts all over the state. This remarkable restoration story began in 1974 when 334 birds were transplanted from Missouri to southwestern Wisconsin. The birds thrived in Wisconsin's "coulee country" – a sparsely populated area of steep ridgelines and deep valleys, woodlot and farmland. As the turkey population grew, DNR staff trapped and relocated turkeys to 49 of Wisconsin's 72 counties. Population levels continue to increase and expand statewide thanks to hunter and landowner support, good survival and high quality habitat. Read more about this hunting opportunity here.
The four most abundant ducks in Wisconsin's fall hunting harvest are mallards, wood ducks, green-winged teal and blue-winged teal. Most of the ducks harvested in Wisconsin come from birds that breed in Wisconsin, in contrast to other states in the flyway that rely more heavily on birds raised in the prairies or boreal forests of Canada. Overall survey results indicate a healthy, relatively stable population of breeding ducks and geese in Wisconsin. This is a positive indication that hunting regulations and habitat management and protection are working. Look for more information about waterfowl hunting here.
Upland Game Birds and Small Mammals
For centuries, Wisconsin has maintained huntable populations of upland game birds. A day afield with a favorite shotgun and a working dog is a joy in itself. Successful hunts are a tradition here with seasons for Ruffed and Sharp-tailed grouse, Bobwhite quail, pheasant, woodcock and Hungarian partridge. Seasons and bag limits vary with year-to-year population estimates. A variety of small mammals, native to Wisconsin, can be hunted. Gray and Fox squirrel, Cottontail rabbit and Jackrabbit, Red and Gray fox, Raccoon, snowshoe hare and coyote have various seasons throughout the year. Find more information here.