Oneida County should aim to increase the deer herd, according to the recommendation voted on by the County Deer Advisory Committee Dec. 9.
This year’s hunting season brought record-low numbers, and though argument continues on the cause, the consensus is that there weren’t enough deer.
“Our antlered deer harvest, our buck harvest, has dipped each year since 2012… I don’t think that’s going to be a surprise to anyone in the room,” said Jeremy Holtz, DNR wildlife biologist, at the meeting. “We shot less deer than last year.”
According to harvest call-ins, which Holtz was quick to say are not a perfect count, but should be treated as an index, 1,118 bucks were harvested in Oneida County this season, in contrast to 1,505 last year, and 1,632 in 2012.
Although the numbers seem to speak for themselves, some disagree.
“I think that, from my perspective, while it was a tough season… there was, in my estimation, not really a shortage of deer,” said Denny Nitzel, the agriculture representative of the council. “A shortage of deer moving around, maybe.”
According to the Oneida County CDAC survey, a little over 23 percent of respondents disagreed with the recommendation to increase the herd.
Many possible ways to increase the herd were thrown around, though nothing will be official until after further discussion and a review of their initial recommendation to increase the herd by the National Resources Board.
Continuing to limit antlerless tags, increasing predator tags and changes in hunting rules were just some of the possibilities discussed.
“There are some things we can do,” said Ed Choinski, CDAC chair.
One of the main points of concentration at the meeting was a discussion of public comments and the results of the CDAC survey that was available through the DNR website in past weeks. In the time it was available, 133 people responded in Oneida County.
Most comments and thoughts seemed to reflect those of the council, including the desire to increase the herd.
“I hope the board seriously takes a look at that quota on antlerless permits,” said Mike Wood during the public comments portion of the meeting. “It’s gunna take a while to rebuild that herd, it’s not going to happen overnight.”
Choinski indicated that he was disappointed in the number of participants in the study.
“I personally would like to see more members of the public come here and tell us, together, what they want,” Choinski said.