The firearms deer season is close at hand, opening Saturday, Nov. 17. This will be the 162nd year of deer management here in the Dairy State; our first designated season was in 1851. We have a long and storied deer hunting tradition here.
People from every state and several foreign countries return annually to participate in the Wisconsin deer hunting experience. The population of the Northwoods swells; in some northern Wisconsin deer management units, the number of hunters per square mile exceeds the number of deer per square mile!
The majority of Wisconsin citizens do not hunt, but this hunting minority supports the bulk of natural resource work, especially the wildlife work, throughout the state.
Hunting license revenue is crucial to the base funding of our staff and our agency. The deer season is also a crucial contributor to our state and local economy. There are about 16,000 Wisconsin jobs created as a result of the deer season, not including DNR jobs like mine. About $1.4 billion flow through the Wisconsin economy thanks to the deer season.
There has been a lot of change around hunting and the deer season recently. New crossbow regulations are in place for this year-anyone who chooses can harvest a deer on their firearms deer permit or antlerless permit using a crossbow or a bow and arrow during the nine-day season.
Also new this year, hunters can legally harvest coyotes during the deer season in the north. Hunters must have a small game license, and must clearly identify the animal as a coyote and not a wolf. If you hope to harvest a coyote this year, and want to make certain you can tell the difference, there are helpful materials on the DNR website. The wolf season will continue to remain open as well, in units where the wolf harvest quota has not yet been met.
The DNR is really putting a big emphasis on recruiting new hunters. There are reduced price hunting licenses for first-time hunters, rewards for referring hunters, and educational opportunities for anyone who wants to learn more about the sport. Law enforcement, forestry and wildlife management will be having several live chats prior to the 2012 deer season on the following topics: Nov. 13 – Women in Hunting; Nov. 14 – Wildlife Management; Nov. 15 – Access to Places to Hunt: VPA and MFL; Nov. 16 – safety, rules and regulations. Also, we have put together a special deer hunt website at dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/deer.html.
Here are a couple of reminders for hunters making preparations. We want everyone to enjoy the hunting seasons and be safe. We also want to enlist the help of hunters who observe illegal marijuana grows, rare animals or poaching. Hunters should program this number into their phone: (800) 947-9367 (800-TIP-WDNR). On my phone, this number is saved as the work phone, and I have 847-411 (TIP 411) as the cell number.
You can send a text message to TIP 411, which works well up north where you may not get enough signal to make a call. Make certain that you start your text with TIP WDNR so they know which state the tip should be sent to.
Hunters who use tent blinds or portable blinds on state land must meet the blaze orange requirements listed in the deer hunting regulations. Any tree stands or portable blinds put up on state land must be removed at the end of each day. Examples of state-owned land include the Woodboro Lakes Wildlife Area on Cty. K and the Thunder Marsh State Wildlife Area outside of Three Lakes. Check a plat book, a county plat book, or the county land information website to determine the ownership of the land you hunt.
Jeremy Holtz is a wildlife biologist with the Wisconsin DNR in Rhinelander, and writes a weekly column in the Star Journal. To contact him, call (715) 365-8999.