July 06, 2015
By Darren Warner
If you think that Wisconsin's reputation as a premier monster-buck producer is overblown and antiquated, then I have just one thing to say to you: You're dead wrong.
Take a look at the Pope & Young record book and you'll notice a glaring fact: the Badger State dominates. Wisconsin is home to eight of the top 10 whitetail trophy counties in the U.S.
State County All-Time P&Y Whitetail Entries
Wisconsin Buffalo 1,134
Illinois Pike 599
Wisconsin Trempealeau 481
Wisconsin Dane 417
Wisconsin Columbia 365
Wisconsin Sauk 340
Wisconsin Waupaca 334
Wisconsin Waukesha 288
Illinois Lake 285
Wisconsin Polk 272
Source: Pope and Young Club
Recent harvest records further support the fact that Wisconsin is a bowhunter's paradise. Since 2010, all 10 of the counties that have produced the most P&Y trophy entries nationwide are found in Wisconsin.
Yup — that's 10 out of 10!
So what makes the state the preeminent archery deer destination?
"We have excellent genetics, lots of farmland and hard mast trees, and a long-time interest in passing on small bucks to allow them to get older and grow larger antlers," says Kevin Wallenfang, a big-game ecologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "We also have the highest number of bowhunters in the country who can deer hunt during the peak of the rut, so their chances are good of seeing and harvesting large bucks."
Last year 161,991 hunters purchased archery licenses, and they bagged 54,810 deer (30,433 of those bucks). Observers familiar with Wisconsin's harvest data might think these numbers are down from previous years, but again, they'd be wrong.
"This was the first year  that we've been able to separate regular bow from crossbow harvest data," Wallenfang notes. "The overall buck kill of 46,000-plus deer for regular bow and crossbow hunters combined was an all-time record."
Most of the top bowhunting counties are found in the central and south-central parts of the state. There hunters find a good mix of agriculture and cover for bucks to hole up in.
This year vertical bowhunters will have to compete with more crossbow hunters for trophy deer. Crossbows can now be used by all hunters — not just those who are disabled or 65-plus years of age. Anyone using a crossbow must purchase a separate license. At press time the Wisconsin DNR was still working on the 2015-16 deer hunting regulations, so hunters should visit the department's website for updated information.
Recently Wisconsin bowhunters have been rewriting the record books. Last year hunter Adam Hupf took the new state typical record (191 6/8 net inches) in the rural Beaver Dam area of Dodge County. This isn't where you would normally envision a nearly 200-inch buck coming from, but in 2012 archer Dusty Gerrits harvested a 189 7/8 inch buck in the same area. Both hunters used valuable intel from neighbors to help pinpoint their bucks' whereabouts.
And if that isn't enough evidence, the record for a non-typical rack was also recently broken. In 2013, Jim Baker bagged the title holder in Waukesha County (249 5/8 inches). With 28 measurable points and a 19 7/8-inch inside spread, Baker's buck edged out Wayne Schumacher's Fond du Lac County non-typical from several seasons ago by nearly 6 inches.
Only a few hours drive away in Waushara County, Brian Inda took a massive 187-inch typical buck that was the state record holder until the Gerrits and Hupf bucks broke the record twice in four years. Watch this clip from NAW TV with Brian Inda discussing his one-time record buck: