Wisconsin’s annual gun deer hunting season begins, Saturday, Nov 19th, so for the next few weeks hikers will want to be aware of open hunting areas within the park.
Here in our part of Wisconsin, there actually be 3 gun hunting seasons this year beginning Saturday, Nov. 19 through the 27th. Next, a four-day antlerless-only gun hunt will held Dec. 8-11, and an additional antlerless-only holiday gun hunt will be going on from Dec. 24 through Jan 1.
The map above shows the areas within the park open/closed to hunting. Hikers, dog walkers & cyclists will want to note that hunting is allowed in much of the Stenke Basin area. This means the Steinke Basin Trail Loop (popular for pet owners), The Upland Trail (Biking/Hiking) and various connectors to the park’s bluff trails and the Ice Age Trail are areas of potential conflict. Hunter’s are required to stay 100 yards away from the Ice Age Trail, but that requirment does not include other park trails within open hunting zones.
To keep the hunting seasons safe, hikers should really avoid these trails during hunting season. It is suggested that all hikers AND their pets wear blaze orange. As always pets need to remain on leash. I know a lot of folks don’t follow the leash laws, but during hunting season that’s especially stupid! It’s also worth noting that deer are crepuscular, meaning they are active during twilight, early morning and late evening. Most hunters will be out at these times.
For some park users, hunting season can really suck at Devil’s Lake, especially if we have good weather. But the truth is, if you stick to most popular bluff trails around the lake there’s really nothing to worry about. (Well, sometimes the gun fire sounds a bit closer than you’d like!) If you’re desperate to get out on Steinke, Uplands or on the IAT over the next 2 months, you just need to watch your dates, wear blaze orange (or pink) and go out mid-day.
Be safe out there!