DNR Parks And Recreation News What’s Happening In Wisconsin’s State Parks, Forests, Trails And Recreation Areas



DNR Parks And Recreation News

What’s Happening In Wisconsin’s State Parks,
Forests, Trails And Recreation Areas

Wear blaze orange this deer hunting season 

Hunting Awareness In The Parks

As the weather gets colder, it brings many seasonal transitions. Cozy socks, knit hats, apple cider and cinnamon desserts. Colder fall weather also means deer hunting season is here in Wisconsin. Awareness of this coming season will ensure you and your loved ones stay safe.

Hunting is allowed in most DNR-managed park properties. Both hunters and visitors to the park system need to be aware of safe practices.

In general, there are two time periods, spring and fall/winter, where hunting and trapping are permitted in state parks. Each type of park property (park, recreation area, forest and trail) has different hunting allowances. Many state trails have partial areas open to hunting while other do not. Find information on specific state trail hunting regulations at the Wisconsin DNR’s Parks – Hunt website. To learn more about hunting regulations along the Ice Age Trail and its segments on DNR land, visit the Ice Age Trail Alliance’s website on hunting season.

Several varieties of hunting and trapping are permitted in the open areas of most state parks during the fall season, running from Nov. 15 – Dec. 15, with archery remaining open through the Sunday nearest Jan. 6. Some parks and trails have weapons restrictions or varying season dates, and there are a few state parks that do not allow hunting or trapping at all.

Below is a list of parks that do not allow hunting:

  • Copper Culture State Park
  • Cross Plains State Park
  • Governor Nelson State Park
  • Heritage Hill State Park
  • Lakeshore State Park
  • Lost Dauphin State Park

For questions about a specific park or trail, check with the park office and consult the park’s hunting map. As always, be sure you know the regulations for when and where you intend to hunt before you head out.

Please note that the rules and regulations for state parks do not apply to state forests, state recreation areas or other DNR properties.

When visiting park properties this fall, remember to wear something brightly colored to keep yourself visible. Reminder that pets must be on leash and to use a brightly colored vest or bell to indicate where they are. Stick to trails and practice awareness of your surroundings.

To find more parks near you, check out our Find a Park webpage.

Upcoming 2023 Deer Hunting Seasons
Archery and Crossbow*

*No bucks may be harvested during the antlerless-only hunts identified below.

Sep. 16, 2023 –Jan. 7, 2024
Gun Nov. 18 – 26, 2023
Muzzleloader Nov. 27 – Dec. 6, 2023
December 4-Day Antlerless Only Hunt Dec. 7 – 10, 2023
Antlerless-Only Holiday Hunt

*Open only in select Farmland (Zone 2) counties. Please see page 12 of combined hunting regulations for valid counties.

Dec. 24, 2023 –Jan. 1, 2024*


Outdoor News And Announcements

Sharp-Tailed Grouse Management Plan

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced the draft 2023-2033 Sharp-Tailed Grouse Management Plan, which outlines objectives and strategies to guide sharp-tailed grouse management in Wisconsin.

The draft plan is open to public comment until Nov. 17 at 11:59 p.m. Additionally, the public can provide verbal comments during a public meeting on Nov. 8, being held in-person and via Zoom.

The draft Sharp-Tailed Grouse Management Plan sets a course for how the DNR intends to manage sharp-tailed grouse and the habitat they use. Highlights include:

  • Focusing management on the existing core range of sharp-tailed grouse in northern Wisconsin.
  • Developing cooperative partnerships between public and private organizations.
  • Implementing landscape-level habitat strategies to sustain long-term populations of sharp-tailed grouse.

Comments can be sent via email to Bob Hanson, DNR Wildlife Biologist, at Robert.Hanson@wisconsin.gov or through the mail until 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 17. Please mail comments to:

Sharp-Tailed Grouse Management Plan Comments
Crex Visitor Center
102 E. Crex Ave.
Grantsburg, WI 54840

Sharp-tailed grouse are a native resident game bird of Wisconsin. These grouse depend on young, open pine, oak barren and savanna ecosystems. Historically, sharp-tailed grouse were found throughout the state. Due to habitat loss and fragmentation, most sharp-tailed grouse in Wisconsin are now found in the northwest.

Learn more about sharp-tailed grouse on the DNR’s website.

Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR


Property Highlight

Run, walk or bike Badger State Trail this season. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR

Badger State Trail

The Badger State Trail travels 40 miles between Madison and the Wisconsin-Illinois border while traversing farmlands, woods, rolling hills, scenic meadows, remnant prairies, ravines, glacial topography and several small communities. The Badger State Trail also connects to many local parks and the Capital City and Sugar River state trails.


In 1886, Illinois Central Railroad Company began to build a rail line from Freeport, Illinois to Madison, Wisconsin. The company’s trains used this corridor to haul grain, livestock, freight and passengers. Passenger trains ran daily up until the 1960s and freight trains continued to operate until 1976.

In 1997, the DNR began to look at the possibility of converting the corridor to a recreational trail under the federal Rails to Trail Act. In 2006, the master plan for the railbed was approved by the Natural Resources Board, naming it the Badger State Trail.

Some historical points of interest along the Badger State Trail include the depot in Belleville, built-in 1888, the Woolen Mill in Monticello and the curved tunnel south of Belleville.

Stewart Tunnel

Another major highlight of the Badger State trail is Stewart Tunnel, south of Belleville. Sections of loose and falling rocks from the ceiling and side walls inside the Stewart Tunnel caused the DNR to close the tunnel in 2019 for safety concerns. While the tunnel is still closed at this time, trail users can take Tunnel Road to detour around the closure. Efforts to restore the tunnel will begin in fall 2023.

Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR


Upcoming Events

Tracking Hikes – Ice Age Trail by KMSF-SU HQ
Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023
10 a.m. – noon

Tracks are everywhere at Kettle Moraine State Forest – Southern Unit! On the ground, in the snow, even underwater, tracks show us where wildlife has traveled. Join us for a hike to find and identify tracks. What will you find?

This hike involves moderate hills and is 1 mile long. Meet at Forest Headquarters – S91 W39092 State Hwy 59, Eagle, WI, 53119.


Fall Candlelight Hike & Campfire
Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023
5:30 – 8 p.m.

Come experience Mackenzie Center trails by candlelight! Everyone is welcome to walk down a candlelit path beginning at the Lodge then cozy up around the campfire.

Please park in the Lodge parking lot and dress for the weather.

Drop-in anytime between 5:30 and 8 p.m.


Evening Walk
Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023
5 – 6 p.m.

Take a guided 1.5-mile hike through Havenwoods State Forest in the early evening. This is a great time to see birds, turtles and other animals eating before turning in for the night. Wear clothing and shoes that are comfortable for the weather, and bring a water bottle.

Photo Credits: Wisconsin DNR

Find more information on these and other events on the DNR Events calendar.


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