Deadline to apply for black bear and spring wild turkey permits is Dec. 10

MADISON -Wild turkey and black bear hunters have until Dec. 10 to submit an application for 2017 hunting season permits.

Black bear

Bear hunters are reminded that harvest permits (Class A licenses) are issued via drawing, and hunters must apply for several years in some management zones before they receive a permit.

Harvest numbers from the 2016 black bear season are not yet finalized, but preliminary estimates show that hunters harvested more than 4,600 bears. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff and the Bear Advisory Committee are currently in the process of determining 2017 harvest quotas.

Bear hunters are reminded that they can apply for a permit or purchase a preference point for future years. In order for bear permit applicants to retain their accumulated preference points, they must apply at least once during any period of three consecutive years or all previously accumulated preference points will be lost.

If a bear management zone is selected at the time of purchase and the hunter is selected in the February drawing, their preference points will be reset to zero, even if they do not purchase the harvest permit. It is the applicant’s responsibility to be aware of drawing status – applicants selected in the drawing will be notified by mail shortly after the drawing, and may purchase their 2017 Class A bear license beginning in March 2017. Applicants may also check their status through Go Wild or by contacting a DNR Customer Service Representative.

The season structure for the 2017 bear hunt is as follows.

Zone C (dogs not permitted):

  • Sept. 6 to Oct. 10 – with aid of bait and all other legal methods not using dogs.

All other zones (use of dogs permitted):

  • Sept. 6-12 – with the aid of dogs only
  • Sept. 13 to Oct. 3 – aid of bait, aid of dogs, and all legal methods; and
  • Oct. 4-10 – aid of bait and all legal methods not using dogs.

For more information, visit and search keyword “bear.”

Spring 2017 turkey season
The spring turkey season is for male or bearded turkeys.
The spring turkey season is for male or bearded turkeys.
Photo Credit: Jerry Reed

The 2017 spring turkey season will begin April 15 with the annual Spring Youth Turkey Hunt. The regular turkey season will begin the following Wednesday, April 19, and will consist of six seven-day time periods, with the final period closing May 30. New this year, the spring turkey season is opening on the third Wednesday in April.

A permit drawing will take place in late December. Successful permit applicants will receive a postcard by late January 2017. Applicants may also check their drawing status online through Go Wild beginning in late January.

Permit winners may purchase their required 2017 Spring Turkey License ($15 for Wisconsin residents and $60 for non-residents) and 2017 Wild Turkey Stamp ($5.25) in early March. Leftover permits following the initial drawing for 2017 spring turkey season will be available for purchase in late March.

Turkey hunters are reminded that Wisconsin’s state park turkey management zones were eliminated Sept. 1, 2014. However, state parks remain open for hunting. For more information, visit and search keywords “hunting state parks.”

Hunters have two options for registering their turkey:

  • online at (fastest and easiest option); or
  • by phone at 1-844-GAME-REG (1-844-426-3734).

All turkeys must be registered by 5 p.m. on the day following harvest. GameReg will generate a 10-character confirmation number, which must be written on the paper tag that accompanies the harvested turkey. Hunters are reminded to carry a pen or pencil to write the confirmation number on the tag, at which point the animal is considered to be legally registered. Hunters must retain the tag with the confirmation number as proof of registration until the meat has been consumed. More information on electronic registration is available at, keyword “GameReg.”

Youth turkey hunt

The ninth annual Spring Turkey Youth Hunt will be held April 15-16, the weekend prior to the opening of the regular spring turkey season.

In conjunction with the Mentored Hunting Program, the Spring Turkey Youth Hunt will be open to resident and non-resident youth hunters ages 10-15. A Hunter Education Certificate of Accomplishment is not required for Spring Turkey Youth Hunt participants. Special rules and regulations apply to those who choose to participate in the Mentored Hunting Program, and interested hunters should carefully review these rules prior to entering the field.

A spring turkey license, stamp, and valid permit/carcass tag is required to participate in the youth hunt. All other existing turkey hunting rules and regulations apply.

Youth hunters who do not harvest a turkey during the youth hunt may use an unfilled permit during the zone and time period for which the tag was issued. Interested youth hunt participants should apply for a spring turkey permit before the Dec. 10 deadline.

Applications for turkey hunts for hunters with disabilities are due Dec. 10

Hunters with disabilities who wish to turkey hunt next spring on private land are reminded of an additional opportunity to hunt using a separate application and authorization form.

Applications to conduct a Spring Wild Turkey Hunt for People with Disabilities on private land must be submitted using DNR Forms 2300-271 and 2300-271A. Forms must be submitted before Dec. 10 to a local DNR wildlife biologist or department office for the county where the hunt will take place. Please note that any applicant who applies for a disabled turkey hunt on private lands using the above forms may not apply for a permit through the regular spring turkey drawing.

Hunting and fishing licenses and applications for permit drawings can be purchased through Go Wild, at all authorized license agents, at DNR Service Centers (hours for service centers vary – check the DNR website for service center days and hours of operation), or by calling toll-free 1-877-LICENSE (1-877-945-4236).

First-time license buyer discount

Certain resident hunting, trapping, and fishing licenses are available for as little as $5 for those who have never purchased that same type of license or have not purchased a Wisconsin license authorizing that activity in any of the prior ten years. Select non-resident licenses are also discounted for first-time buyers. For information search for keywords “first-time buyer.”

For more information regarding bear and turkey hunting in Wisconsin, visit and search keywords “bear” or “turkey.”