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Best Spots for Bowhunting Wisconsin's Trophy Bucks

All-time total numbers of Pope & Young whitetails taken in Wisconsin.

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?

Jeff Weber's awesome 15-pointer taken in Fon du Lac County, located in Wisconsin's eastern portion of the state, grossed over 200 inches. No matter where you're hunting in the state, chances are you're not too far from a giant. Photo courtesy of Realtree

"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 [2014] 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."

South-central Wisconsin is prime whitetail hunting habitat. Scott Hove's massive 181-inch bruiser taken in 2011 was the largest ever taken on trail camera. In 2012, Hove put an arrow through a huge 212-inch non-typical. Read the full story and watch the video now! Photo courtesy of Realtree

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.

Adam Hupf's record-breaker buck taken in Dodge County's rural Beaver Dam area is quickly becoming a premier destination in the state.

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:

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