DNR hopes 2002 deer kill will at least match 2001

Editor

Madison With a statewide deer population estimate of 1.6 million
animals, DNR wildlife biologists hope hunters can keep pace with
harvest goals in light of the concerns over chronic wasting disease
(CWD).

One thing is for sure: Hunters will have more hunting
opportunities this fall than in previous seasons, including liberal
numbers of antlerless tags for the 2002 nine-day gun deer season,
which will run Nov. 23 through Dec. 1.

“Get out there and enjoy the hunt, that’s one of the concerns we
have,” said Dave Evenson, DNR interim big game specialist. “License
sales are off and people seem to be holding off, but at least
during the Zone T hunt, that group of hunters seemed very relaxed.
They came to a decision, they were putting meat into the frying
pan. That was interesting to see. It seems the more people know
about CWD, the more likely they are to have that attitude.”

Last year, hunters registered 361,264 deer during the combined
gun seasons and 83,120 deer during the archery seasons. That
overall harvest fell short of expectations, but if hunters can
match, or even exceed, that harvest this year, it would be
considered a great effort, Evenson said.

“At least we wouldn’t lose ground (on trimming a large deer
herd),” he said.

Although it remains to be seen just what gun deer license sales
will come in at, Evenson noted that there are plenty of new
“opportunities” this year. Deer hunters would rather not have CWD
in the state, but liberal season frameworks have been created in
the CWD Intensive Harvest Zone and CWD Management Zone. In
addition, there is a longer muzzleloader season in 2002 a 10-day
season that runs Dec. 2-11. Also, this year’s late bow season runs
through Jan. 3.

Evenson is a bit concerned about the impact the late gun opener
could have on the overall harvest. This year’s opener, Nov. 23, is
the latest possible opener. Last year hunter’s caught part of the
rut when the season opened on the earliest possible date.

“The late opener there’s good and bad about that. Snow is a good
likelihood. Swamps and marshes should be frozen, so access will be
better, but I wouldn’t expect to see much rutting activity,” he
said.

“We have a very big herd. We don’t know what the license sales
will be. We have such a strange world right now, with CWD. We have
some people out gun hunting for deer right now in the CWD zones,
where there is an earn-a-buck requirement.

“I would hope we can have a harvest similar to last year, or
better, but that will be a tough one to call. The deer are there to
support it, but it will be up to the social and individual
will.”

Evenson reminds hunters that bonus permits remain available for
over-the-counter purchases in most deer units.

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