Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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Deer season framework is NRB focus on Jan. 24

Madison Will hunters see 13 changes come to the deer season
framework for the 2001 season? If so, they should know by Jan. 24,
the day the DNR is supposed to present those changes to the Natural
Resources Board (NRB) for approval.

Those 13 changes are the ones coming out of last year’s Deer
2000 efforts and they range from an earlier and longer bow season
to a permanent four-day antlerless deer season in December. Those
changes were presented to deer hunters at hearings in December. The
DNR has compiled those hearing comments and will forward them to
NRB members in advance of the board’s Jan. 24 meeting in
Madison.

Based on the comments, the DNR is suggesting one change to the
package, but is not advancing the idea of a 16-day

season.

Here’s the change: the Bureau of Wildlife is suggesting the NRB
approve an earn-a-buck season instead of a season-long,
antlerless-only hunt during the third year of herd control efforts
in some units.

As of press time, the Bureau of Wildlife had forwarded the idea
to DNR Secretary George Meyer, but Meyer had yet to give his
approval on the change. Meyer’s OK is needed before the DNR can
pass the package to the NRB.

Here’s how the earn-a-buck change comes into play. Under the
proposal that went to hearing, special four-day October antlerless
deer hunts would be used in units where the herd is not within 20
percent of the over-winter goals. Hunters will have two years to
bring the herd to goals. If, by the third year, the unit is still
well-above goals, the DNR would have the option to declare an
antlerless-only season for those units for all seasons archery,
rifle and muzzleloader. No bucks could be shot in those units the
third year, under the original plan.

However, based on comments from the December hearings, the
Bureau of Wildlife decided to drop the “third-year, antlerless-only
all season” requirement and replace it with an earn-a-buck
option.

If this idea gets Meyer’s approval and is then passed by the
NRB, hunters in the third year of herd control efforts in any given
unit would be required to shoot a doe before they could shoot a
buck.

No 16-day season

During the hearing in Rhinelander last month, a number of
hunters asked the DNR to modify its proposed season framework
changes to include a 16-day season.

That idea will not be advanced to the NRB by the Bureau of
Wildlife.

Joe Pozarski of Rhinelander is a member of the Conservation
Congress’ Big Game Committee and served as a co-chairman on the
Deer 2000 Forestry Committee that wanted the DNR to institute a
16-day season. At the Rhinelander hearing, Pozarski said the
committee diluted the overall support for a longer gun season by
offering two 16-day scenarios, instead of one.

Kurt Theide of Madison, Deer 2000 coordinator, attended most of
the December hearings and compiled the comments.

“The 16-day season was not part of the (proposal), but (the
idea) was added to the record as part of the public comments,”
Theide said. “Only 16 comments out of about 700 showed an interest
for the 16-day season, and most of those came from the Rhinelander
hearing after Mr. Pozarski made his statement.”

Theide said it is still possible that NRB members could
entertain the idea of a 16-day season outside of the DNR’s proposed
framework package. NRB member Herb Behnke of Shawano has long
supported the idea of a 15- or 16-day gun hunt.

Theide noted that even if the DNR had combined the support from
both 16-day scenarios from the earlier Deer 2000 questionnaire,
that support would not have outweighed the support logged for a
four-day December doe season.

Thiede said 588 people attended the December hearings and
another 110 comments came in by mail, for a total of 698 persons
testifying on the package.

NRB members may approve the DNR recommendations at the Jan. 24
meeting in Madison (8:30 a.m. start, DNR office), or they could ask
the DNR to make revisions.

If the NRB approves the plan as presented, there would be time
to make changes for the 2001 deer seasons, as long as the changes
are not bogged down in the legislative review process.

What’s being proposed

Proposed changes to the deer season framework include:

A permanent four-day December antlerless deer season;

Begin the archery season on the Saturday closest to Sept. 15 and
end it on the Thursday before Thanksgiving;

Begin the late archery season on the Monday after Thanksgiving
and end it on the Saturday closest to Jan. 15.

Lengthen the muzzleloader season by three days.

Create a one-day youth hunt on the Saturday closest to Oct.
24;

Allow a four-day antlerless deer hunt in late October in units
where the deer herd is not within 20 percent of the over-winter
goal. That season could be used a second year, if large enough
reductions are not gained. If a third year of herd reduction
efforts are needed in the same unit, the DNR is proposing an
earn-a-buck season format for all seasons bow, gun and
muzzleloader.

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