Sunday, February 5th, 2023
Sunday, February 5th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

More meetings for deer streamlining’

Correspondent

Poynette, Wis. The DNR Deer Streamlining Team will continue to
meet in June, with an eye at making recommendations on changes to
the state’s deer season framework by the end of summer.

The committee’s suggestions will be presented to directors of
the DNR bureaus of Wildlife Management, Law Enforcement, Customer
Service, and Integrated Science Services, with the intent of having
proposals ready for the annual DNR rules committee meeting in
September. That meeting establishes proposals for the following
spring hearings.

“We also want to get the opinions of different groups before we
go ahead with any rule proposal,” said Kurt Thiede, policy and
regulations specialist with the DNR Bureau of Wildlife Management
who is chairing the committee.

The committee, representing DNR wildlife management, law
enforcement, licensing, research, customer service, and legal
staff, plus a representative from the Conservation Congress and
Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, first met in
January. Its goal is to simplify deer hunting regulations and
tagging requirements.

The committee has scored different proposals on a matrix. Some
of the considerations include how each proposal scores in terms of
the science of wildlife management, hunter compliance, consistency
across the state, costs to the DNR and to the public, ability to
maintain harvest control, whether the DNR and public would support
it, whether it increases opportunities for hunters, how well it
simplifies regulations, and whether it will be stable from year to
year.

“We’ve had some good discussion and now we have to take another
look at those that scored highly and discuss them in more detail,”
Thiede said. “And, for those that didn’t score highly, we want to
see if we can combine them with other ideas to make them more
attractive. In the end, we want to be able to recommend our best
ideas that will simplify the regulations without compromising our
deer management capabilities.”

At the May meeting in Poynette, the committee scored the
following proposals highest:

Identical regulations for each metro deer management unit.

A statewide four-day antlerless deer gun season in October. This
would not be a Zone T season; it would be a statewide antlerless
season.

Eliminate the youth hunt and replace with a new, first-time
novice hunter deer privilege.

Eliminate the late (December) Zone T season statewide. Replace
it with a statewide four-day antlerless gun hunt starting the
second Thursday after Thanksgiving.

A 16-day gun deer season starting the Saturday closest to Nov.
15, and, if necessary, including Zone T and earn-a-buck
seasons.

Some of the tagging changes that scored the highest include:

Eliminating the ability for archers to fill their gun tag with a
hunter’s choice permit, thus reducing tagging confusion.

Issue hunter’s choice permits only in units where the supply of
hunter’s choice permits does not exceed demand.

Eliminate hunter’s choice permits and replace with a
unit-specific antlerless tag available over-the-counter at the
license vendor, in addition to the buck tag allowed by each
license.

The discussion has been intense and has brought to light the
different disciplines involved in deer hunting. For instance, one
option that was discussed was eliminating existing unit boundaries
and switching to units defined by county boundaries. This would
eliminate some units and make regulations standard by county, but
lack of boundaries on county lines draws law enforcement concerns
because county line boundaries could cause confusion in areas where
the county line doesn’t follow a road or a river (zone separation,
for instance, if a county line goes through a field).

The committee did recommend to the DNR Deer Committee that,
where possible, it is preferred to move toward larger and fewer
deer management units to simplify the program.

Underlying the entire process: DNR has legal responsibility to
manage deer at goal levels, yet a complex system of regulations has
been developed over the years to control the herd while private
landowners control access to land.

Meetings are planned for late June and July.

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