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Gun deer season shows mixed results for hunters

Gun deer season shows mixed results for hunters Gun deer season shows mixed results for hunters

Wisconsin hunters harvested 16 percent more deer this year than they did last year in the gun deer season. It’s no surprise since last year was not a good year for the gun hunt; several days of bad weather, a lot of standing corn and an early start with the deer resting as the rut slowed down suppressed hunter success. We expected a better season and we had better weather.

What needs to be stressed is the harvest during the gun season is still down 9 percent from the 10-year average. Parts of the state saw a pittance of an increase and some even saw decreases in the harvest over last year. All is not well with deer hunting in Wisconsin.

Marathon County saw one of the highest harvest totals, but it’s also the largest geographic county in the state. The farmland zones saw increases in harvest, and Marathon is completely farmland zone. The Central Farmland Zones saw an increase of 15.5 percent; the Southern Farmland Zone saw a jump in harvest totals of 21.2 percent.

Clark County has both farmland and forest areas in the Central Zone. The farmland area increased by 15.9 percent, but the forest, much of which is public land, increased by only 1.8 percent — a good case of the haves verses have-nots. The public lands of Clark County still have not recovered from the last blasting of the Herd Reduction Hunt of 2013, and the miserable winter that ensued. The winter of 2013 wasn’t the peachiest winter ever experienced either, but not like 2014.

Taylor County saw a 26.5 percent increase in deer harvested. Taylor County lies firmly in the Northern Forest Zone. Ashland, Florence, and Iron counties all saw decreased deer harvest. So did Langlade (-4.7 percent), Lincoln, (-4 percent), Marinette (-21.7 percent). A fair amount of hunters from our area hunt Price County during the deer season and they were down -2.8 percent from last year, and last year was dismal to say the least.

Now before you say “wolves, wolves, dem darn wolves,” consider that the Northern Forest is the primary range of the black bear, which kill more fawns then wolves kill deer. Yes, wolves get their 20 adult equivalent deer per year per wolf, but there are a lot more bear and they kill a lot of fawns in the spring. More importantly, consider the logging deficit on our forest, compared to the late 80’s through the early 90’s. That’s the difference between high quality habitat that all deer, wolves, and bear all need - a multiple-age-class diversified forest with plenty of edge. Not a primarily same age forest, which Wisconsin is quickly moving towards. But more about that another time. Right now, after the deer season, we want to blame the wolves, because our relationship with wolves has been for a lot of years an adversarial relationship. The DNR announced that the wolf hunt will start again on Nov. 6, 2021. It made national news. So, make sure you pay attention to your application dates and get your name in for the season if you want a chance to draw a tag. That’s about all the information available right now. I would suspect a deadline for applications will be announced fairly soon, as well as zones. Hunting wolves will present a challenge for the most experienced hunter, whether hunted by stalking, predator calling, or with the aid of dogs. Wolves have proven themselves a worthy prey animal for a hunt.

They are impressive animals that need management to reduce conflict with landowners, pet owners, ranchers and hunters. Wisconsin needs to retain its ability to manage its population of wolves. When hunters are able hunt a species they become the greatest advocate for the species, providing a protection for a species that has historically and currently proven the most effective for that species.

Remember what I said about lawsuits a few weeks ago. A couple groups are threatening. Oddball operations whose funding is always spelled HSUS. And consider the letter sent to our governor just before the gun season by one of those groups educating him on why wolves shouldn’t be hunted.

Soooo, don’t be surprised if you are holding your wolf harvest tag on Nov. 5, ready to hunt the next morning, when a last-minute injunction stops the hunt. Remember, I also said this was a fund raising opportunity for the anti’s and they intend to milk that for all its worth.

Good luck on the antlerless hunt this weekend and please remember that Safe Hunting is No Accident!