New antlerless hunt set for ‘06
By Tim Eisele Correspondent
Stevens Point, Wis. — State hunters will have a statewide
antlerless deer hunt the second week in December after all.
And, there will be no October Zone T season this fall, thanks to
compromises between the Natural Resources Board and the
The 2006 deer-hunting season is the result of the board’s
meeting April 26 in Stevens Point, where it approved changes
requested by the Joint Committee on Review of Administrative Rules
(JCRAR) from the week before. The JCRAR did not agree with
objections of the Senate and Assembly natural resource committees.
As a result, the JCRAR will allow the DNR to adopt the season it
requested, which the board originally approved last December,
except that the December antlerless hunt north of Hwy. 8 will be
for the 2006 season only, and the DNR must request approval to
extend it for future seasons.
The board unanimously approved the latest proposal, and then
withdrew its approval from February that would have continued the
deer regulations that were in effect in 2005.
The JCRAR now has 10 working days to review the plan, and no
meeting had been scheduled as of WON press time.
DNR deer ecologist Keith Warnke said the DNR would incur some
costs, estimated to be around $40,000, in order to provide extra
archery carcass tags to people who bought their licenses prior to
May 15. This would involve printing and postage to mail tags to
about 77,000 hunters.
Everyone who buys an archery license should receive two tags
valid statewide – one for an antlerless deer only and the other
valid for one deer of either sex.
The 2006 deer-hunting season thus will include:
- A two-day youth either-sex gun hunt on the Saturday nearest
Oct. 8 (this year Oct. 7-8). A mentor is required to accompany the
youth. The youth may kill one buck with a regular buck tag, but may
shoot as many antlerless deer for which he/she has tags.
- There will be a statewide four-day antlerless gun hunt
beginning the second Thursday following the Thanksgiving holiday
- There is no October four-day antlerless-only hunt outside of
the CWD zones in 2006. Whether that continues in 2007 depends on
the antlerless-to-antlered harvest ratio this season.
- The earn-a-buck season is in place in 21 units.
- In herd-control units, antlerless tags will be unrestricted.
The first tag is free with each gun and archery license, and
additional tags are available for a handling fee of $2 (plus a $3
fee if purchased on-line or over the phone).
- River Block units will be treated the same as the rest of the
state in terms of dates and tagging options.
- The archery license comes with two tags, valid statewide, for
one buck and one antlerless-only deer.
- The hunter’s choice program is replaced by the sale of
antlerless tags, valid in regular units. They will be sold for $12,
first-come, first-served, beginning in August (one per hunter, per
day). Also, tags for use in state parks will be sold on a first
come, first served basis.
- The late archery season will close the Sunday nearest Jan. 6
(this season that is Jan. 7), allowing the late bow season to be
open during the New Year’s holiday.
“Because of the ongoing changes this year, there will be
confusion and it will take time for hunters and the staff to get up
to date on the season,” Warnke said. “But this rule includes many
provisions that simplify deer hunting and tagging.”
The board heard testimony from several people concerned about
Steve Oestreicher, chairman of the Conservation Congress, said
the December season north of Hwy. 8 should be in all deer
“Many hunters and landowners have fought too hard to let this
slip away now,” Oestreicher said.
Morris Nelson, of the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs,
disagreed with the JCRAR’s decision and subsequent NRB
“Whereas many think this was a great compromise, the opposite is
true – everybody lost,” he said. “The genie cannot be put back in
the bottle. There were newspaper ads that went far beyond the
boundaries of fair play, and the AWSC suffered a damaged
“The rule should have never been in front of you (the board) in
the first place,” he said. “The opposition was 3-1 against it.
Everybody lost in this one – hunters who despise EAB, snowmobilers
who will have trail preparation delayed, elected officials who
faced accusations; there was much more lost than gained by this
The board adopted an order establishing the 2006 chronic wasting
disease hunting seasons for the Disease Eradication Zone and the
Herd Reduction Zone, but not before making a change and moving the
October hunt up a week to make it earlier in October to avoid a
problem with bowhunters hunting during the rut.
Bill VanderZouwen, DNR chief of landscape ecology, said the DNR
has to work with landowners and hunters, and many of them are
The challenge for the DNR is to work with landowners and hunters
to get them to shoot more deer. The DNR has in the past used EAB
and many residents were against it. Now the DNR is using either-sex
regulations in the CWD zone, and people are against that, too.
“We hoped that by making compromises we could come up both with
herd control and making people as happy as possible,” VanderZouwen.
“We came up with what we thought were a lot of compromises.”
The DNR proposal to the board for the CWD zones season includes
a shortened the late gun season, so that it would end Dec. 10
rather than Jan. 3; a shortened and earlier early gun season in the
DEZ so that it would only be nine days in 2006 (from Oct. 21-29 in
the DEZ and Oct. 26-29 in the HRZ); and rather than EAB, use
VanderZouwen said the DNR has doubts about the ability of these
regulations to reduce the herd, but they’re an attempt to try to
listen to the public and hope hunters will be more excited about
the gun hunt.
A legislator’s “listening session” in Lone Rock regarding CWD
regulations found that people wanted to avoid an early gun season –
they would like to return to the traditional season, or even a
16-day gun season. They did not want the HRZ early gun season
extended and some said they prefer EAB to an early gun season.
“We do have concerns about last year’s harvest,” VanderZouwen
said. “There was a 28-percent reduction in the antlerless kill in
the DEZ last year and 23-percent reduction in the antlerless kill
in the HRZ. We are not sure, knowing this, that we are doing the
right thing in compromising, but we also know we need the hunters
and landowners with us.”
VanderZouwen said that almost everyone he talks to in the
western DEZ believes there are fewer deer on the landscape, yet the
helicopter survey did not show that.
Dave Clausen, board member from Amery and a veterinarian, said
it makes sense with a disease epidemic that populations must be
Christine Thomas likened deer with disease as “pollution”
walking across the landscape.
“If they saw these deer as 55-gallon drums of mercury on legs
walking across property lines threatening a $1 billion industry,
potential human health, and the livestock industry, we would be
doing something much more strenuously than we are,” Thomas
Steve Willett, board member from Phillips, said that because the
DNR is a regulatory agency, residents may resist its efforts.
“We have to look at how our regulations affect perception, and
if it is that the DNR is a regulatory agency first, I don’t think
we will get the warm fuzzy feeling that it is ‘our crisis;’
instead, it is the DNR’s crisis,” Willett said. “I think the DNR
has done a marvelous job of attempting to reduce the herd, but I
don’t see an attitude change sufficient enough to work.”
Six members of the public addressed the board regarding CWD
measures. Tony Grabski, of Blue Mound, said he was disgusted with
the CWD season structure, use of sharpshooters, and excessive
spending on eradication efforts. He presented a resolution that
called for the elimination of sharpshooters, except to remove
visibly sick deer, an earlier four-day October antlerless hunt, and
simplified CWD zones.