Outdoor Notebook: More about deer hunting in Wisconsin
By Roger Sabota
Special to the Star Journal
Remember two weeks ago? At that point in time it was mentioned that it would be difficult to write a column about the 2015 deer season. I always attempt to write about activities such as a statewide Wisconsin deer hunt. This time it is difficult to write positively about the 2015 deer season.
The deer season as described in the paper, “Outdoor News,” released statistics by the DNR that showed an increase in 2015 of one percent over the 2014 season. This included all the deer hunting seasons, rifle, archery and muzzleloader. The information presented there is tough to swallow. The story in the “Outdoor News” showed that the groups hunting Northern Wisconsin, Western Wisconsin as well as Northwest Wisconsin showed an increase in registered deer and in some areas there was no change over last year.
Our efforts were concentrated in Oneida County, Vilas County and Forest County. During the season we talked to numerous hunters and noted that only one of those hunters said that they had seen only one to three deer. In spite of the report from hunters the DNR statistics show a slight increase in the number of deer registered in those counties.
Please note that I am not saying that the DNR is reporting numbers that are false. Several years ago several outdoor writers challenged the DNR numbers. One of those writers hand counted the numbers as reported by registration stubs and the DNR information was accurate. I still love deer hunting in Wisconsin above any other outdoor activity.
While sitting on a stool during the muzzle loader season, waiting for a buck to show himself, I began to make notes about some changes that I believe could allow the deer herd to increase. I am sure that some deer hunters would adamantly disagree with me for the first suggestion but here goes.
That suggestion is to cut the length of the present 9-day gun hunt. Additionally the length of the archery season could be cut by as much as half of the present season. Another possibility would be to eliminate the special seasons.
The special hunt for youngsters could also be shortened. Although it is illegal, some adults are shooting deer and then have the youngster tag that deer. Of course, regulations as severe as these would only be applied in those counties that are not producing deer at an average rate.
We drove west to the Osseo, Wisconsin area to participate in the four-day antlerless deer hunt that followed the regular rifle season. A biologist had told us that in some parts of the farmland area the deer population had recovered and there were as many as 40 deer per square mile. We hunted for two days and saw FOUR deer. One of those four deer filled one of our tags. For many years we had hunted that area and did extremely well. We certainly did not see the numbers of deer that we were told were in that farm country. It seems that the process of counting deer in Wisconsin will always be a process that is an inexact science.
Deer hunters in three Northern Wisconsin counties are questioning the need for prohibiting the feeding and shooting of deer over bait. A deer that was tagged near Three Lakes was examined and proved to be affected with CWD. The prion causing CWD is found in the saliva of infected deer; therefore CWD is spread by close contact of deer at feeding stations and bait piles. Some hunters believe that the order from the Natural Resources Board to prohibit feeding and shooting over bait can be held off. This is not true and would take Legislative action to change. Make a note that shooting over bait and feeding deer will not be allowed in Oneida, Vilas and Forrest counties beginning in January of 2016.
The wish from our house to yours is for a healthy and Happy New Year.
Longtime outdoor enthusiast Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.