Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

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DNR goes with a 16-day gun whitetail deer hunt

DNR Reports

Madison – A 16-day gun deer hunt starting the Saturday before
the Thanksgiving holiday was the basis of a proposed 2010 deer
season framework the DNR was scheduled to present to the Natural
Resources Board for consideration during a Dec. 8 meeting in
Madison.

“The special committee formed by the Natural Resources Board to
develop effective alternatives to earn-a-buck discussed dozens of
ideas and season structures,” DNR Secretary Matt Frank said. “They
ended up recommending a 16-day gun deer hunt with either an early
or a traditional start date. At public hearings we heard sentiment
overwhelmingly against an early start date (suggested to be the
Saturday before the traditional opener) so we are recommending a
traditional opening date to the board at this time.

“This was one of the most heavily attended public hearing
schedules in recent history. On behalf of the department, I want to
thank all the organizations and individuals that participated in
the public review process over the past few months. Public
involvement in this decision process is invaluable.”

The complete proposal is posted on the Natural Resources Board
meeting agenda for December page of the DNR web site. The special
committee’s report is also available on the board’s web page at
http://dnr.wi.gov/org/nrboard.

If approved, the 16-day season would be an alternative to the
use of earn-a-buck in areas outside the chronic wasting disease
management zone beginning with the 2010 season. The season would
open on the Saturday before the Thanksgiving holiday. Numerous
Wisconsin hunting and conservation groups registered preference for
the Saturday before Thanksgiving opener during a battery of
statewide public hearings.

Other key features of the proposal:

€ Extending the archery season through all gun seasons and
extending archery season until the end of January in herd-control
units;

€ Addition of a four-day October antlerless-only statewide
muzzleloader hunt;

€ Four-day October antlerless-only gun hunt in herd-control
units;

€ Four-day youth hunt that coincides with the October antlerless
hunt;

€ Seven-day statewide December muzzleloader hunt;

€ Four-day December antlerless-only gun hunt and a 10-day
buck-plus-quota “holiday hunt” in Farmland and Central Forest deer
management units.

“An understandable reaction to creating additional hunting
seasons is a concern that deer herds will be overharvested,” said
Keith Warnke, DNR big-game ecologist. “The safeguard against this
is the existing quota system. Under this system the harvest of
female deer is limited by permit levels to maintain populations at
healthy, sustainable levels.”

The proposal calls for a unit-by-unit review of the
effectiveness of any new season structure. In units that are more
than 20 percent over goal and the expected harvest under a third
year of any new season structure is unlikely to bring the herd to
within 20 percent of goal, additional harvest measures will be
considered, Warnke said.

More than 1,600 people attended the series of 11 public hearings
held across the state in October and November. An additional 6,500
people used the web-based comment form or submitted e-mail or
mailed comments. DNR social researchers also mailed a random survey
to 1,000 hunters to gauge opinion. The response rate to the survey
was a very respectable 71 percent.

Legislative review of any NRB action should be completed by
March 2010, with any changes taking effect in time for deer season
setting in April 2010, Warnke said.

Conservation Congress chairman Ed Harvey said earlier that the
Congress will testify at the Natural Resources Board’s Dec. 8
meeting and will ask that the board delay implementing any season
format requested by the DNR.

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