NRB sets deer hunt for 2013
Madison — Lower antlerless deer quotas in the state’s forested regions mean that four deer units will have buck-only seasons this fall and 46 will have regular seasons with buck-plus-quota regulations.
Six units had buck-only rules last year, and 50 were in a regular season framework.
In addition, 50 units will have herd-control seasons this fall, which is up from 44 units with those rules in 2012.
The same 22 units that were in the CWD zone last year will continue to be in the CWD zone, again with “bonus-buck” rules instead of earn-a-buck.
The Natural Resources Board approved those DNR recommendations at its May 22 meeting in Madison.
Bill VanderZouwen, DNR Wildlife Ecology Section chief, said Wisconsin is fortunate to have relatively high deer harvests per square mile and relatively large numbers of bucks with large racks, but acknowledged that deer hunting is not good for everybody.
“So, we’ve tried to be responsive and give many opportunities for people to provide input, and we did listen,” he said. “In the north we have very conservative (antlerless) quotas and they are intended to allow for herd growth.”
The DNR held 34 public forums across the state and also had more than 13,000 people participate in an online survey.
Although the winter was fairly moderate, April conditions were harsh and winter extended into May. Wildlife managers think that will have an impact on deer.
The regular units are those that are within 20 percent of the population goal. These 46 units will have buck plus antlerless quota and offer the archery season, nine-day gun hunt, 10-day muzzleloader hunt, four-day December antlerless gun hunt, and a limited number of antlerless tags at $12 each.
Of the 46 regular units, 17 are below goal and have modest antlerless quotas. A majority of people who attended forums or responded online in this area wanted at least some antlerless tags for bow season, VanderZouwen said.
The four buck-only units (units 7, 29B, 34, and 39) are more than 20 percent below goal and will have no antlerless tags.
“Despite being buck-only for several years, they are still more than 20 percent below goal. We’re not exactly sure what is going on (in those units), other than habitat is aging and winter and predators are having an effect. Maybe we can just never get to goal in those units,” VanderZouwen said.
The herd-control units are those where the DNR does not expect a regular season would bring the deer herd down to within 20 percent of goal.
“To me this is really our long-term challenge in deer management,” VanderZouwen said. “In these areas, our highest-ever antlerless harvests won’t even bring the population down to within 20 percent (of goal).”
These 50 herd-control units have the same archery, gun, muzzleloader, and four-day December antlerless hunt as regular units, but hunters also get a free antlerless tag with each bow and gun license, and extra antlerless tags are sold for $2.
In the 22 CWD units, hunters may shoot the first deer of either sex, there is a “bonus buck” rule, free antlerless tags, a December four-day antlerless hunt, and a holiday gun hunt. There is no October four-day hunt and no private land winter hunt.
NRB members thanked the DNR for its efforts to reach out to the public, but Christine Thomas said she is still concerned that the season will do nothing to reduce the incidence of CWD.
VanderZouwen said that it’s a huge challenge, but the DNR needs hunter and landowner support, and the department tried everything it could in the CWD zone without a lot of impact. He said hunters have said it is time to do something more fun and enjoyable.
“But what is looming is a season that will be no fun and a potential crash of the herd statewide,” Thomas countered.
NRB member Bill Bruins said the state is waiting until there are better tools to control CWD, and NRB member Terry Hilgenberg asked for the DNR to report back on what it’s is doing to deal with CWD.
DNR officials told board members it will provide a report in August following recommendations on the deer trustee report from citizen action committees that currently are working on that task (see Page 8 in this issue for an article from the latest action team meetings).
NRB member Greg Kazmierski said the gist of the Kroll plan is a change in Wisconsin’s deer-hunting culture. Kazmierski told of landowners who allowed University of Wisconsin researchers on their property to collar deer for research, but would not allow DNR employees on their land. Kazmierski thought that needed to change and “play out.”
Ralph Fritsch, representing the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, thanked the DNR for listening to sportsmen’s views on deer numbers, as well as their requests for lower antlerless quotas in the north. He said the WWF supported the framework.
“The quotas and permits across northern Wisconsin reflect the continuing observations of hunters that deer populations are not at goal due to winter conditions, mature forests, and predators,” Fritsch said.
The board approved the recommended season and permit levels unanimously.
The 50 herd-control units (plus eight state park units) are 01M, 15, 16, 21, 22, 22A, 27, 33, 46, 47, 51A, 51B, 54A, 54B, 54C, 57, 57B, 57C, 59B, 59C, 59D, 59M, 60A, 60B, 60M, 61, 61A, 62A, 62B, 63A, 63B, 64, 64A, 64M, 65A, 64M, 65A, 65B, 66, 67A, 67B, 68A, 68B, 69, 72, 72A, 73A, 73B, 73D, 74A, 74B, 77C, 77D, 77E, 77M, 80A, 80B, 80C, and 81.
The 22 CWD zone units are 54B, 70, 70A, 70B, 70C, 70D, 70E, 70F, 70G, 71, 73B, 73E, 75A, 75B, 75C, 75D, 76, 76A, 76M, 77A, 77B, and 77C.
The 46 regular buck-plus-quota units are 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29A, 29B, 30, 31, 32, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 49A, 49B, 50, 52, 53, 55, 56, 57A, 58, 59A, and 78.