< BackHunting, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

It may come as a surprise to some visitors to learn that hunting is permitted in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.  Unlike the congressional acts that established national park areas like Yellowstone and Yosemite, the legislation that created Apostle Islands National Lakeshore provided for regulated hunting within park boundaries. These activities are managed to ensure that game species are not overexploited and that hunting does not unreasonably impact the safety or experiences of other visitors.

Hunting is allowed in the national lakeshore. Hunting activity may occur from September (after Labor Day) through December. A muzzle loader deer hunt (by permit only) is held on several islands during the month of October. Interested hunters must apply for the permit lottery between June 15 and July 15. For detailed information and an application form write to Park Dispatch, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, 415 Washington Avenue, Bayfield, Wisconsin 54814 or apis_ resource_issues@nps.gov. All hunting is conducted in compliance with state law.

Hunting is prohibited on lands and waters within the lakeshore between May 15 and September 12. Consequently, most hunting activity occurs outside of the lakeshore's busiest visitor season.

In general, most hunting seasons coincide with dates established by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WI-DNR).  Species most commonly pursued include white-tailed deer, black bear, and ruffed grouse. There are also limited opportunities for small game and waterfowl hunters.  All hunters are required to obtain a hunter access permit to hunt within the lakeshore.

New WI-DNR rule changes in 2008 expand deer hunting activities to include all islands within the lakeshore.  This includes the traditional muzzleloader season and the addition of a new archery season.  All WI-DNR regulations pertaining to these weapons are in effect.

Though the deer herd size on islands is large enough to permit hunting opportunities, the number of deer per square mile is considerably lower than found on the mainland.   Hunting on the islands is popular with hunters who enjoy the challenge and unique opportunity to hunt deer under difficult and primitive conditions.   For additional information regarding deer hunting opportunities please see the letter to hunters.

For a number of years prior to 1994, bear hunting was not permitted on any islands in the park other than Long Island.  A long-term study of island bears began in 1984. During the course of the study, the number of bears on Stockton Island rose dramatically.  In 1994, bear hunting season was reopened on Stockton and Sand islands according to the general rules governing the State's bear season.   The bear population in the lakeshore and throughout northern Wisconsin continues to increase. Although bear populations vary from island to island, visitors should be prepared for bear encounters on almost every island.