Photo Credit: Katie Weber

Hunting Season and the Ice Age Trail

There can be a lot of details to navigate when you hike the Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Wisconsin’s fall and winter seasons: hunting season dates, trail closures on private property, and public lands where the Trail is open and hunting is also allowed.

Since fall is a popular season for hiking and hunting, both groups of outdoor enthusiasts will find themselves co-existing on the Ice Age Trail.

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Hunting Season, Hiking During Hunting Season
A peaceful fall scene along property owned by the Iola Wintersports Club. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

FAQs: We've Got Answers!

I'm a hunter. Which Ice Age Trail Alliance properties are available for hunting?

Please visit our Ice Age Trail Alliance Properties and Hunting Regulations map to know which properties are available for hunting and which ones aren’t.








I'm a hunter. I don't see one of the properties I'm looking for on the Alliance properties map, where else should I look?

Please check the Public Access Lands map created by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, it is likely there.








I'm a hiker. When does hunting season begin and end?

Hunting season for some game species may begin as early as September 1st and, in some instances, extends through May. Stay in the know by heading over to the Season Dates and Application Deadline page hosted by the Wisconsin DNR, which annually sets the season dates.

You may also find this page easier to read when it comes to determining hunting season dates. It’s also easy to print. So, tack it to your fridge or bulletin board.

The good news is this:

  • Just about all segments of the Ice Age Trail that cross public lands remain open for hiking during hunting season, including the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, state and county forests, and state parks.
  • Although, hunting is allowed in most state parks and State Ice Age Trail Areas (SIATAs), it is limited to Nov. 15 through Dec. 15 and from April 1 to the Tuesday nearest May 3.








What is "Blaze Orange" Season?

Crisp, sunny, bug-free days of autumn are perfect for hiking on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. However, we share the woods and marshes with other outdoor enthusiasts, hunters. We encourage you, for your safety, to consider fall, winter, and early spring “Blaze Orange” Season—wear blaze orange (or other bright colors) from September through May when you and your pet are on the Trail.

However, the good news is this: Just about all segments of the Ice Age Trail that cross public lands remain open for hiking during the hunting seasons of various game species, including the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, state and county forests, and state parks. Hunting, allowed in most state parks and State Ice Age Trail Areas (SIATAs), is limited to November 15 through December 15 and April 1 to the Tuesday nearest May 3.








When is the nine-day gun deer season?

The Nine-Day Gun Deer-Hunting Season for 2020 is November 21–29. 

These nine days are the most popular hunting season and the one during which hikers are most likely to see Ice Age Trail hiking options limited.

You may also like to view the sections (or segments) of Trail closures in an orderly Excel spreadsheet list. (The spreadsheet downloads automatically when you click on the link.)








I wish hikers didn't need to share prime Ice Age Trail hiking season with hunters.

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail is a partnership project. Many agencies and people have come together to support this vision. As a result, Ice Age Trail crosses numerous property types, including private land and lands owned and managed by municipal, county, state, and federal agencies.

Fall is prime hiking season. However, it also coincides with another popular activity, hunting. It’s a ritual that connects outdoor enthusiasts and private landowners to the land and what it means to be a Wisconsinite.

Although you may not be a hunter yourself, or even like hunting, please respect hunters and what they bring to conservation. For decades hunters – through licenses and other fee programs – have funded the preservation of countless acres of land around the country, including properties that host many miles of the Ice Age Trail. For example, like the Lodi Marsh Wildlife Area, a beautiful place would not exist without the support of hunters, anglers, and trappers.

The good news is this: Just about all segments of the Ice Age Trail that cross public lands remain open for hiking during the hunting seasons of various game species, including the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, state and county forests, and state parks. Hunting, allowed in most state parks and State Ice Age Trail Areas (SIATAs), is limited to November 15 through December 15 and April 1 to the Tuesday nearest May 3.








I don't feel safe hiking during hunting season, what should I do or know that will help me?

Broadly stated, the various hunting seasons range from September through May.  For this reason, we encourage you to wear “Blaze Orange” or other brightly colored clothing when you head out for a hike. 

Hunting seasons for various game species don’t happen simultaneously. Nor do they take place in all regions of the state, which is why it’s good to know the types of hunting allowed and their season dates. Some seasons require hikers to exercise more caution than others. For example, it’s safer to hike during archery and crossbow season than during gun deer season. A bullet travels farther than an arrow.

The good news is this: Just about all segments of the Ice Age Trail that cross public lands remain open for hiking during the hunting seasons of various game species, including the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, state and county forests, and state parks. Hunting, allowed in most state parks and State Ice Age Trail Areas (SIATAs), is limited to November 15 through December 15 and April 1 to the Tuesday nearest May 3.

As a general rule, hikers can feel pretty safe on the Trail; however, it’s good to follow these suggestions:

1. KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Hunting Season Dates set by the Wisconsin DNR; Closures along the Ice Age Trail, during gun deer season, where the Trail crosses private land; and Ice Age Trail Alliance properties where hunting is allowed. You may want to purchase the Ice Age Trail Guidebook. Its segment-by-segment information also highlights which sections or segments are closed for hunting season.

2. WEAR “BLAZE ORANGE” or other highly visible clothing.

3. IF YOU HIKE WITH A DOG, it should wear a blaze orange vest and be on a leash at all times.

4.USE EXTRA CAUTION AT DAWN and DUSK. Hunting activity may increase at dawn and dusk when animals are feeding. Please wear reflective vests if you hike during these times of low visibility. Using a headlamp is a good idea, too.

5. AVOID HUNTER INTERFERENCE. It is prohibited by Wisconsin law to interfere with people engaged in lawful hunting, fishing, or trapping (WI Statutes 29.083).

6. BE HEARD. Make sure you are heard, by whistling, singing, or talking while you hike.








Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Hunting Season, Hunting and Trapping dates, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
The Highland Lakes Eastern Segment of the Ice Age Trail. (photo by Cameron Gillie)

Hunting and Trapping Season Dates

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources annually sets a range of season dates for a wide range of game species. The most popular hunting seasons include deer (bow and gun), turkey, small game, and waterfowl. Season dates vary from year to year and in different locations around the state.

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Hunting Season, DNR Hunting Season Dates, Blaze Orange, Hike safely in hunting season
Photo by Paulette Walker Smith.

Be Prepared for "Blaze Orange" Season!

“Blaze Orange” Season: For your safety, consider fall, winter, and early spring “Blaze Orange” Season—wear blaze orange (or other bright colors) from October through April when you and your pet are on the Trail.

Safety Tips: 

  1. KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Hunting Season Dates set by the Wisconsin DNR; Closures during gun deer season where the Trail crosses private land; and Ice Age Trail Alliance properties where hunting is allowed.
  2. WEAR “BLAZE ORANGE” or other highly visible clothing.
  3. IF YOU HIKE WITH A DOG, it should wear a blaze orange vest and be on a leash at all times.
  4. USE EXTRA CAUTION AT DAWN and DUSK. Hunting activity may increase at dawn and dusk when animals are feeding. Please wear reflective vests if you hike during these times of low visibility. Using a headlamp is a good idea, too.
  5. AVOID HUNTER INTERFERENCE. It is prohibited by Wisconsin law to interfere with people engaged in lawful hunting, fishing, or trapping (WI Statutes 29.083).
  6. BE HEARD. Make sure you are heard, by whistling, singing, or talking while you hike.
Ice Age Trail Alliance Properties available for hunting.
Ice Age Trail Alliance Properties available for hunting.

Hunting on IATA Properties

This map shows hunters (and hikers) which Ice Age Trail Alliance properties are open to hunting or require a permit to do so.

Ice Age Trail Alliance properties are privately owned by the Alliance. In a number of instances, these properties were purchased with public funding sources which required the land be available to hunting activity. The map displays which properties are open to hunting and which ones are not.

If a property requires a hunting permit, please request one, by August 15, from Eva Ballering, Land Steward for the Ice Age Trail Alliance, ([email protected]).

Please be respectful of Private Land signs.
Please be respectful of Private Land signs.

Hiking on Private Lands During Hunting Season

The private landowners who generously serve as Ice Age Trail hosts may close the portion of the Ice Age Trail that runs through their property during hunting season. This is most common during the nine-day gun deer season, but closures can be in place during other seasons as well.

Hiking Tips:

  1. BE INFORMED: View the Ice Age Trail Hunting Closures map to know which sections of the Ice Age Trail are closed during hunting season.
  2. RESPECT SIGNS:“Private Land” signs are placed at any point where the Ice Age Trail enters private land, most often at a road crossing. Landowners and/or Ice Age Trail Alliance volunteers also often place “Segment Closed” signs (with dates of the closure) at Trail access points.
  3. MAINTAIN GOOD RELATIONSHIPS: Be aware of when you pass “Private Land” signs and those announcing a closed portion of Trail. Do not continue past the signs. Ending your hike at these locations will help ensure the continued good relations with private landowners that are so critical to the Ice Age Trail. 
  4. SEEK BOOTS-ON-THE-GROUND INFORMATION: Before you head out to a new region to hike, contact the volunteer Chapter Coordinator(s) to learn about which segments or sections closures of which you should be aware.
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, DNR Public Land Access Map
You may click on image to launch the map.

Hunting on Public Lands

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Public Access Lands map will help you determine where hunting is allowed on public lands.

Please note the following when hunting on public lands:

  1. Hunting is allowed in most state parks and State Ice Age Trail Areas (SIATAs) from Nov. 15 to Dec. 15 and from April 1 to the Tuesday nearest May 3.
  2. Within the boundaries of these State lands, no hunting or trapping is allowed within 100 yards of the Ice Age Trail.
  3. Note: the 100-yard rule does not necessarily apply to other trails in state parks, nor does it apply to other state properties such as state wildlife areas, state forests or state fisheries, or private properties adjacent to these SIATAs.
Pat.Witkowski-Waukesha-Prairie between hwy 59 and hwy N-Fall-September

Hiking on Public Lands

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Public Access Lands map will help you determine where hunting is allowed on public lands.

Please note the following when hiking on public lands:

  1. THE TRAIL IS OPEN: Just about all segments of the Ice Age Trail that cross public lands remain open for hiking during hunting season, including the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, state and county forests, and state parks.
  2. LIMITED HUNTING SEASON: Hunting is allowed in most state parks and State Ice Age Trail Areas (SIATAs), however, it is limited to November 15 to December 15 and from April 1 to the Tuesday nearest May 3.
  3. STAY SAFE: Please wear ‘Blaze Orange’ clothing while hiking during hunting season.