How about 23 days?

Editor

Madison Would Wisconsin deer hunters accept a 23-day general
deer season if it meant getting rid of Zone T seasons and
earn-a-buck units?

That’s what Natural Resources Board members want to know, so
that very question will appear at the spring hearing when the state
convenes its annual fish and game hearings on the second Monday of
April that’s April 12 this year.

“If there is support for this advisory question, the Natural
Resources Board would direct the DNR to put it together immediately
and it would be implemented in the fall of 2005,” said Conservation
Congress chairman Steve Oestreicher.

The NRB proposal includes:

A 23-day general deer season beginning the Saturday before
Thanksgiving, continuing through the second Sunday in December.
Hunters would be allowed to use rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders or
archery gear;

With the 23-day season, the October and December Zone T seasons
and earn-a-buck requirements would be eliminated;

When buying a license, hunters would receive one choice tag and
one antlerless tag. There would no longer be a need to apply for
hunter’s choice. Bonus tags would still be sold over the counter in
units where they are available;

The archery deer season would open the Saturday nearest Sept. 15
and would continue through Jan. 3. The only day archery hunting
would not be allowed is the Friday before the general (gun) deer
season opens. Archers would have to wear blaze orange during the
23-day general season;

 The muzzleloader season would be incorporated into the general
season, and the restrictions on scopes would eliminated;

The general deer season would not be applied to the CWD
management zones, where more liberal frameworks may be used.

Oestreicher said the congress executive committee, which
includes himself, vice chairman Edgar Harvey and secretary Al
Opall, endorses the NRB’s decision to send this proposal out for
citizen input.

“Let’s run ‘er up the flag pole and see if she waves,” he
said.

Why now?

This detailed 23-day season proposal came out of discussions by
board members at their Jan. 27 meeting in Madison. At that meeting,
NRB member Jim Tiefenthaler suggested the board put an advisory
question on the spring hearing that would have asked whether deer
hunters supported a longer season.

That idea was approved, but after the meeting several board
members suggested that if the NRB was going to place a question on
the spring hearing, it may as well have some substance. NRB members
Tiefenthaler, Herb Behnke, and new chairman Gerald O’Brien crafted
the current proposal, with input from Oestreicher and DNR wildlife
biologists.

“The DNR was somewhat leery of letting go of earn-a-buck and T
Zones,” Oestreicher said. “If we find out it’s not effective, then
there’s still the option of Zone T and earn-a-buck coming back.
What they’re looking to do is try everything they can to avoid
going to Zone T and earn-a-buck.”

The NRB came out with its proposal at the same time the DNR is
convening a six- or seven-member committee that has been charged
with looking for ways to simplify the state’s deer season
framework. That committee will continue with its efforts. Members’
first goal is to make backtags and carcass tags more
“user-friendly.”

If the NRB’s 23-day proposal does not see widespread support on
April 12, the DNR committee will continue with its efforts.

“We want to make this as simple as possible,” Oestreicher said.
“This way, hunters will now know what their options are. We
wouldn’t need hunter’s choice applications, but it would leave the
option for buying more bonus tags in units where they’re
available.

“I think this will give hunters a chance to shoot more
antlerless deer. This is 23 consecutive days, but still gives
hunters a chance to take a break and get back out,” he said.

The Conservation Congress has never supported previous attempts
to approve a 16-day gun deer season.

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