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Those who hunt whitetails on their terms in northwestern Wisconsin usually seek areas with "heavy" soils, meaning lowland wetlands and forests.

Those who hunt whitetails on their terms in northwestern Wisconsin usually seek areas with "heavy" soils, meaning lowland wetlands and forests. The result is tough access, few hunters and fewer but older deer, says Wisconsin DNR wildlife manager Fred Strand in Superior. Typically, these bucks need three years to grow their first big rack, but hunters who pursue them in the region's soggy soils don't mind the wait.


Douglas County, across the border from Minnesota's St. Louis County, is No. 1 for big bucks in Wisconsin's North Woods and has produced 15 Boone and Crockett bucks since 1995. At nearly 280,000 acres, the Douglas County Forest is the largest county forest in the state. About 80 percent is commercial forest, with the remaining 20 percent in brush prairies, lakes, rivers and marsh. As a result, large blocks of poplar (aspen) are managed for whitetails.


Following back-to-back tough winters, the herd is below its winter population goal of 15 deer per square mile, but still within its historical average. You don't need to concentrate on Douglas County to find big deer and public land, however. A short drive to the east, north and south puts hunters in the seemingly endless Chequamegon National Forest.


Read more on Whitetail Hotspots: The Great Lakes.


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