‘No bow doe’ set for some units this fall

Fitchburg, Wis. – It’s here. “No bow doe” rules will be in place
for 19 deer units this fall.

Antlerless deer carcass tags issued this fall with archery
hunting licenses will only be allowed to be used in deer units
where an antlerless deer quota exists.

Earlier this year, the Natural Resources Board approved a deer
season framework that included no antlerless quotas, or no doe
tags, for 19 units – 18 regular units and Council Grounds State
Park.

Then, at its June 23 meeting, the NRB approved an emergency rule
that will prohibit bowhunters from using antlerless tags in those
19 deer units where no antlerless quota exists for gun hunters this
fall.

This means gun hunters and archers will have similar
restrictions, and neither group will be allowed to shoot antlerless
deer in these units.

The change was made by the NRB’s emergency rule provision after
the DNR and hunting groups kicked the idea around last winter, with
the idea being that if unit deer numbers are low enough to warrant
bucks-only hunting for gun hunters, the same should apply to
bowhunters as a way to more quickly rebuild the herd.

There’s an exception to this restriction that is allowed by
state statute that could only be changed by the Legislature:
Hunters with disabled Class A and Class C permits, first-time
hunter education graduates, and hunters with ag damage tags may
shoot antlerless deer in those 18 regular units and in Council
Grounds State Park.

DNR Acting Deer Ecologist Jason Fleener told the board the
reason for the lack of an antlerless quota in those units.

“These are units that are more than 20 percent below their
population goal levels, which sets a trigger for us to go to the
public and solicit comments on no antlerless quotas for gun
hunters,” Fleener said.

Traditionally bowhunters have always been able to shoot a deer
of either sex. They previously had received an either-sex deer tag,
but starting in 2006, the tags were separated into buck tags and
antlerless deer tags that were valid statewide.

Last year, there were 13 units that had no antlerless quota, and
gun hunters did not receive any bonus antlerless tags. However,
archery hunters were allowed to shoot antlerless deer on their
separate statewide antlerless tags, and many hunters believed the
restriction should be the same for bowhunters.

The DNR held three public hearings on the proposal to make the
archery antlerless tag valid only where there is a gun antlerless
quota. A total of 12 people registered in support of the change,
and two registered in opposition.

Fleener said the Wisconsin Bowhunters Association issued a news
release supporting the change.

Some of the reasons that people supported the proposal? To make
regulations equitable for gun and bowhunters, to help the deer herd
rebound quicker, and to make regulations in each unit more
consistent.

Reasons why some people opposed the change included a belief it
would shift harvest toward young bucks that might otherwise be
passed up if does could be shot. Others said the archery antlerless
harvest is negligible compared to the gun doe kill.

The printing on the tags has been changed this year, and rather
than saying the tags are valid statewide, it now says the archery
antlerless carcass tags are valid only in units that are specified
in the hunting regulations booklet. Hunters who look in the
booklet, or the map on the DNR web site, will see the 18 units,
plus Council Grounds State Park, where there is no quota.

The “no bow doe” units are: 7, 13, 28, 29A, 29B, 34, 35, 36, 37,
38, 39, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 49A, 52 and 52A (Council Grounds State
Park).

George Meyer, executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife
Federation, testified in support of the change.

“Our chairman, Ralph Fritsch, lives in Oconto County and he
wants the board to be aware of the strong support for this rule
change by gun and archery deer hunters living in the area,” Meyer
said. “Both archers and gun hunters alike understand the depressed
number of deer in the area and are willing to accept zero
antlerless deer harvest in those units in order to restore the deer
population in the area.”

The board passed both an emergency rule, which will be in place
for the start of the 2010 archery deer season, and a permanent
rule. The permanent rule now goes through legislative review. Had
the board not passed an emergency rule and the permanent rule
cleared legislative review later this year, it would be possible
the rule wouldn’t go into effect until during the middle of the
archery deer season this year. That would have caused
confusion.

Both the emergency rule and permanent rule were passed
unanimously by the board.

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