Wisconsin Offers Discounted Licenses

angry bird on a branch
Shutterstock/Aaron J. Hill

How much would you pay to hunt in Wisconsin? How about $5? If you’re a resident of the Badger State and haven’t purchased, say, a small-game license for upland hunting ever or in the past 10 years, that’s all you’d pay. One year after the state raised some of its licensing fees for the first time in 20 years, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is creating opportunities for new or lapsed hunters to head to the field and forest. 

Available through the DNR’s designated website (gowild.wi.gov), the discounted licenses are available to both residents and nonresidents. While not every type of hunting is this affordable, the same $5 fee applies to fishing, trapping and deer hunting. For nonresidents, the cost of an out-of-state small-game license drops from $90 to $44 both for first-time buyers and those who haven’t purchased a license in 10 years. It’s a stunning savings and the kind of creative incentive designed to reverse the decline of hunter numbers. 

The state is also offering another incentive to reward residents who introduce new hunters to the sport. The DNR has set up a designated phone line (888-936-7463) to receive referrals from new hunters who want to acknowledge the residents who encouraged and mentored them to hunt. Hunters simply call the number and provide both their and their mentor’s assigned customer numbers, and if the mentor receives a referral three or more times in a year, he or she will earn points toward a discounted license of his or her choice.

We applaud Wisconsin’s commitment to hunting and the state’s desire to encourage new and experienced hunters to pursue the sport, generating important revenue for conservation efforts in the process. So if you’ve dreamed of heading to Wisconsin’s Northern Highland region in pursuit of grouse or woodcock or poling through the sloughs of the Mississippi Flyway on the state’s western border, 2024 might be the year to make it happen.


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