Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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Night hunting in Wisconsin

Coyote hunting is permitted day and night all year long in Wisconsin. (Photo by Bill Kinney / Windigo Images)

Unprotected species – as well as coyotes, fox, and raccoons – may be hunted without shooting hour restrictions, except if hunting with a bow or crossbow. However, the hours listed on pages 30-31 of the current Wisconsin hunting regulations pamphlet apply for hunting all species during the bear and archery/crossbow deer seasons.

Coyote hunting is permitted day and night all year long in Wisconsin. A small-game license is required on land not owned or occupied by the hunter. Raccoon hunting is open to residents Oct. 15 through Feb. 15, 2023; the raccoon season for nonresidents runs from Oct. 29 to Feb. 15, 2023. The fox season runs from Oct. 15 through Feb. 15, 2023.

Use of lights: A flashlight or firearm-mounted light may be used at the point of kill while hunting on foot for coyotes, raccoons, fox, or unprotected species. Lights may not be used to “shine” for these animals while in possession of a firearm, bow, or crossbow.

The use of lights and “thermal” rifle scopes at night is illegal, except for at the point of kill. Electronic callers, suppressors, and thermal rifle scopes are permitted.

Night vision optics differ from thermal optics in that they’re designed to take low levels of light and amplify it, allowing hunters to see the actual scene in very dark situations so long as there’s some level of ambient light. With thermal optics, hunters are only getting a heat signature.

“Point of kill” means the location at which a light is used to illuminate and kill a wild animal when the hunter knows the position or location of the animal. Simply put, hunters may not use a light at night to scan, search for, or locate coyotes in Wisconsin.

Highly visible clothing requirements do not apply to those hunters participating in legal night hunting from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.

Unprotected species means mammals and birds that may be hunted year-round without bag limits or shooting hours restrictions, and includes opossums, skunks, weasels, woodchucks, porcupines and all other wild mammals not specifically mentioned in the hunting and trapping regulations pamphlet and not listed as endangered, threatened or protected. A small game license is required on lands not owned or occupied by the hunter when hunting unprotected species.

The owners or occupants of any land – and members of their family – may, without a license but subject to all other restrictions except seasons, hunt or trap on their own property for beavers, fox, coyotes, raccoons, woodchucks, rabbits, and squirrels year-round, and unprotected species causing damage or a nuisance,

Hunting protected species – such as badgers, jackrabbits, moose, flying squirrels, and wolves (which are currently federally protected while still on the Endangered Species List) – is prohibited.

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