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EAU CLAIRE – Any hunter now can use a crossbow during any Wisconsin gun deer season, including muzzleloader, under the authority of their gun deer license and gun deer carcass tags, under new rules approved this year that apply to gun seasons only.
An archery license still allows hunting only with a bow and arrow, except that a person age 65 or older and certain qualified disabled hunters may use a crossbow to fill their archery deer carcass tags. Under a 2011 rule change, archers can hunt with bow and arrow during the nine-day gun deer season as long as they comply with the same blaze orange clothing requirements that apply to gun hunters.
The crossbow cannot be used in group hunting, which is limited to the gun deer season and to hunters with a gun license using firearms. In group hunting, one hunter can shoot a deer and another can tag it as long as both have gun deer licenses and the gun deer tag is valid for that unit. The two hunters must be within voice contact without the use of electronic devices such as cell phones or walkie talkies.
Just prior to deer season last year, the regulations changed regarding the transportation of firearms and bows. Highlights are as follows:
• Firearms no longer need to be cased while in a vehicle, regardless of whether the vehicle is stationary or moving.
• All long guns must be unloaded when in any vehicle, and in or on a moving vehicle.
• Handguns can be uncased and loaded in a vehicle, but cannot be concealed unless the person is authorized to possess a concealed weapon.
• It is illegal to shoot a firearm or bow and arrow from a vehicle, unless disabled and complying with conditions of a disabled hunting permit.
DNR conservation wardens are encouraging hunters to review the 2012 hunting regulations pamphlet available at any DNR office or license vendor and also available online at dnr.wi.gov. Just type “deer” into the search box and scroll down for the regulations link. Reviewing the regulations will help ensure a fun, safe and successful hunt.