Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Rhinelander hearing logs plenty of ‘oppo’ to DNR’s 16-day hunt

Rhinelander, Wis. – Ideas for longer deer seasons from the DNR
and Conservation Congress to replace earn-a-buck rules took a
thorough beating from hunters and snowmobile interests during an
Oct. 21 public hearing in Rhinelander.

The timing of the proposal may have dimmed the public’s view on
the idea in northern Wisconsin; hunters who testified repeatedly
told DNR hearing examiner Chuck McCullough that considering the
fact that deer numbers are below over-winter goals in much of
northeast Wisconsin and hunters have never seen an EAB season in
those units, there is no need to change anything in the north.

Jerry Jankovic, of Monico, took a more pragmatic view.

“I just went to the CWD zone and saw two deer in four days of
hunting. We don’t need a 16-day season, but I will go for it
because I will need all 16 days just to see a deer to shoot,” he
said.

Gary Myshak, of Sugar Camp, said he was disgusted with the DNR
in general and said that if the DNR wants a 16-day season, then
“you should just open the season from September to the end of
January and let everyone kill whatever they want.”

Bill Wenzel, of Irma, said that Iowa avoids the rut hunting of
bucks during that state’s firearms seasons and he thinks Wisconsin
should do the same.

“Besides, it seems illogical to implement a longer season in an
area with no deer,” he said, noting that of his last 13 trail
camera pictures recorded in a spot that is not baited he had
pictures of six bears, one coyote, one bobcat, and five does.

Wenzel touched on a theme that carried a lot of water that night
– predator numbers are too high and, with the impact predators are
having on the herd, a 16-day season is not needed, regardless of
the starting date.

Jerry Aulik, of the Antigo area, identified himself as a member
of the Conservation Congress Big Game Committee, but made it clear
he was speaking as an individual, not as a member of the
Congress.

“We have no deer. Unless we do something about the number of
wolves and bears, we won’t get our deer back. We need a bear and
wolf permit issued with each deer tag sold,” said Aulik, to a round
of applause.

Brad Hoffman, of Wausau, followed up on Aulik’s point.

“This will be my 69th year of hunting in Unit 37. I’ve been on
the land for 40 years and last year I saw one deer – two deer the
year before that. We have bears, wolves, and coyotes – we saw two
wolves last month. To add a second week – early opener – would not
help at all,” he said.

Although most of the testimony ran against the DNR and Congress
proposals, a few speakers did support a 16-day season, and with an
earlier opener.

Alan Harrison, of Wabeno, said he supports the DNR’s 16-day plan
with the early opener, but doesn’t like the idea of moving any part
of the muzzleloader season to October.

“Last year I saw no deer movement. One reason we didn’t see
deer? Bait piles,” he said. “This longer format would allow hunting
pressure to spread out, and make it a more enjoyable hunt.”

Harrison received no applause from the audience, nor did David
Czysz, of Rhinelander, a forester who said he supports the DNR’s
effort to maintain deer numbers at over-winter goals as a way of
reducing the amount of damage deer are going to saplings.

Ken Anderson, of Eagle River, introduced himself as the chairman
of a new group, the Wisconsin Crossbow Hunters, and said WCH
supports the DNR’s proposal.

“The Wisconsin Crossbow Hunters would oppose any 16- day season
starting the Saturday before Thanksgiving. We recognize that
‘tradition’ has never harvested a single deer and a new tradition
should be experienced,” he said.

Eagle River chamber director Conrad Heeg and Vilas County
Forestry Department Trails Coordinator Dale Mayo both supported
ideas that would move gun hunting out of December to make room for
snowmobiling. Mayo supported the DNR’s 16-day season with an early
opener.

After the hearing, following up on Heeg’s and Mayo’s comments,
several members of the audience noted that the current December
four-day antlerless season has taken place for several years
without conflicting with snowmobile clubs’ efforts to brush, sign,
and open trails.

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