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Hunters still have a voice with online spring hearings

Hunters still have a voice with online spring hearings Hunters still have a voice with online spring hearings

The annual spring hearings were set to take place statewide this upcoming Monday, April 13, in every county in the state. COVID-19 safety precautions have caused the meetings to be held through online voting only this year. Last year citizens could participate via online forms, but their input was not weighed as heavily as those that attended. This year, an online vote is a full vote.

And I believe that this is a good year for all our votes to count. The online voting format will open on Monday, April 13, at 7 p.m. and will remain open for 72 hours. With all the shelter orders in place, please take some time to fill out the questionnaire during those three days. If you don’t, then don’t complain if this fall’s hunting season looks a lot different than what you expected structurally. And I don’t care how you vote, even if you feel differently than I do.

Go to the DNR website and search “annual spring hearing” if they don’t have that on their home page. They should.

Some people are looking to overhaul the gun deer and archery seasons. Questions will range from moving the start date up, adding another week to the season, eliminating use of the archery tag during the gun season, and requiring nontoxic bullets on all DNR-controlled lands. These same forces want to limit the crossbow season to only October with possibly opening it up after the gun deer season.

I’m voting to extend the gun season another week but to keep the same opening date — for more opportunity. I agree to halting deer hunting to make poaching easier to regulate two to five days before the gun opener, but all waterfowl and small game must be able to continue. It doesn’t affect deer hunting. I’ll say no to nontoxic bullets at this time; the DNR and other groups need to do a lot more education on this to gain more voluntary compliance. By the way, I already hunt deer with nontoxic bullets, voluntarily.

I oppose limiting the crossbow season, especially for people with disabilities and those over 60. The benefit is the better weather from Nov. 1 to gun season. Many won’t be able to hunt in the often harsh subzero weather in December. This is simply a token lip service scrap by those hoping to eliminate crossbows, which have been good for youth, disabled, and older hunters. Limit the number of bucks one can shoot a year before eliminating someone’s hunting. And, if the decline in gun licenses is used as a reason why this needs to happen, could the increase in crossbow licenses be due to hunters choosing to hunt when it’s nicer with a crossbow? There are several more questions on non-toxic shot or bullets, including needing nontoxic shot for turkey, grouse, dove, etc. Again, more education is needed by the DNR, nontoxic shot must come down in price, and this should start voluntarily. If the waterfowl season is open, I might encounter a shot on a flushing wood duck. I often hunt upland birds with nontoxic shot now, but generally I will hunt with lead as lead generally has better ballistics for shotgun shells than steel. Copper bullets for rifles actually have the same or better ballistics and, as I said, I use those for hunting. If you hunt in a Waterfowl Production Area where lead shot has adverse biological effects, I support nontoxic shot, and it’s already required.

There is also a proposal on spring bear hunting and a Multispecies Raffle that would give the winner the chance to hunt elk, bear, bobcat, deer, spring and fall turkeys, and other preferences as a fund raiser for wildlife. I’m a big supporter of raising dollars and habitat funding, as you all know. But this doesn’t tell us how much they expect to raise, how much ends up in the ground, and what type of projects are eligible. Until that’s spelled out, I’ll defer on voting yes and continue to work with private groups for funding habitat work.

I just scratched the surface on questions. I hope you are motivated to participate and vote. You can view the entire questionnaire now on the DNR website. It won’t take that long to vote. The majority may agree, but they may not agree with you. More of us need to make our voices heard instead of the political action committees. Stay healthy.