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October 24, 2007

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100 Best Public-Land Hunts: Wisconsin

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest
: north Wisconsin
Size: 1.5 million acres
ZIP: 54552

More than half the land in Wisconsin’s northern quarter is publicly owned, and much of it is prime trophy buck country, says big-game biologist Keith Warnke of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Great swathes of national forest, like the Chequamegon-Nicolet, which sprawls across 11 counties, present vast areas with only limited access. “When you get away from roads and people, those bucks can get very large, and they’re all on public land,” Warnke says. A recent string of mild winters that boosted nutrition and lowered stress means conditions are ripe for a banner crop of mature bucks, but there are no shortcuts for finding them. “For big bucks on public land, I first recommend scout, scout, scout—people have to know where those deer are moving,” Warnke says. Second, contact the U.S. Forest Service in Park Falls, Wis., for a list of road closings that limit access, and pore over maps to identify some of Chequamegon-Nicolet’s many swamps, wetlands and roadless areas that might discourage less determined hunters.

Clark County Forest (133,000 acres)
Jackson County Forest (120,000 acres)
Location: central Wisconsin
Size: 253,000 acres
ZIP: 54456 (Clark County), 54615 (Jackson Co.)

Many central Wisconsin counties maintain extensive public forests that are open to hunting, and those located in the adjacent counties of Jackson and Clark are two of the best. Active logging here creates a number of forest openings that make good deer food and winter cover, and deer densities are much higher than in northern Wisconsin, ranging from 50 to 75 per square mile. “This is land that produces big bucks year after year,” Warnke says, “but you’ve got to do your homework to find them.” Start by identifying logged areas and then trace the travel routes between them. No food plots are planted at either site, but surrounding agricultural areas are important food sources.


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I bet it's cold hunting in Wisconsin.


Northern Wi is great until about two weeks before gun season. When the "hunters" that hit the woods two or three times a year are riding around on ATV's in restricted areas. Why are these lazy lawbreaking idiots doing this. To find a spot not to set a stand for gun season. But to dump their CORN piles. So come on up to the pristine wisconsin northwoods. That is if you like to deal with idiots hunting over 'golden scrapes".

kenneth w jamme

If you want to get a shot a a trophy or just want to guarantee some good venison, hunt wisconsin.

lee mcgregor

hey guys i live in Wisconsin and have hunted public land deer for 20years and i have shot lots of deer.but i really have to work hard to find them in the past few years.the dnrs claim of 50 to75 deer a square mile is far fetched.We are lucky to have 10 to 15 deer per sqare mile,on private and even less on public.I hunt blackriver falls,WI any questions just ask ill try and answer them to the best of my ability.I might try chequamegon next week for gun,that will be a first.to everyone in WI good luck!!!

Kevin Croninger

Hey everybody,
I have been hunting public land near portage for the last 10 or so years. The DNR has been destroying the habitat to plant corn and cut down trees I don't know why. Does any one have any good suggestions for where to go for some good public hunting land in Wisconsin? Any suggestions are appreciated.

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100 Top Public Lands
Field & Stream reporter Steven Hill spent two months interviewing state game agency officials, deer biologists, and whitetail experts to identify the absolute best public whitetail hunting grounds in the nation.

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