BY ROGER SABOTA
Special to the Star Journal
What is the major topic of conversation at the local coffee shops now? If you answered deer season you are correct. As discussed in this column previously deer hunters in numerous counties in Wisconsin, including Oneida, Vilas and Forest Counties will not be able to hunt over bait because of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). One may ask why this regulation has been imposed. The answer to that is that the DNR is attempting to control the spread of CWD in deer in areas where it has been identified. Because of close contact between deer at baiting sites the prion that causes CWD can easily be spread from the saliva of one deer to other deer.
It is a sincere hope that hunters and others interested in a healthy deer herd will adhere to this regulation.
As a result of a decrease in funds available the DNR is being subjected to criticism about their attempt to control CWD.
At the present time deer should be in the middle of the rut. That is that period of time when the breeding process takes place. Many hunters speculate that the rut has been delayed this year because of the unseasonably mild weather. Other hunters forward the philosophy that the rut is governed by the decrease in sunlight.
With the prohibition of baiting for deer, the sales of scents that attract deer have dramatically increased. The value of these scents is questioned by some.
Another tactic used by some deer hunters is to set a deer decoy in a location that would be visible to deer in an area where the hunter sits. A trail camera may be used by these hunters to give them an idea of any deer movement in the area. A trail camera is an excellent device to use to scout for deer.
There is a group of hunters who spend a good share of the off-season developing food plots on their land. Some hunters with large tracts of land spend a great deal of time, money and effort in developing these food plots.
Some individuals say that if baiting deer is outlawed then food plots should also be outlawed.
Perhaps hunters who hunt from elevated platforms will want to be extra careful. Falling from these platforms ranks as the number one injury sustained by deer hunters. There are now many devices available to increase the safety of hunting from tree stands or other elevated devices.
As I have said often, deer hunting has changed dramatically over the years. When I was first starting to deer hunt it seemed like the majority of hunters would gather a group of hunters and organize drives to move the deer toward other hunters in a position called standers. It doesn’t take much imagination to realize that this could be a very dangerous way to hunt. Frequently the drivers would flush a buck and it would run directly toward the standers. It is amazing that more hunters were not shot.
Some groups continue to use this technique but not usually to the extent that it used to be used. Blaze orange (or pink which is legal this year) clothing has dramatically decreased the number of hunting accidents.
Not the least of changes in hunting is the use of crossbows. It doesn’t take as much time to become proficient with a crossbow as it does with a compound bow.
However, some time should be spent shooting at a target to become familiar with the bow. Crossbows used to be available only for those with certain disabilities or advanced age. Regulations have changed and are much more liberal now. There is no age limit for using a crossbow.
Crossbow hunting is one of the fastest growing outdoor sports that there is.
Good luck during the rifle hunt that begins Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. Hunt safely!
Longtime outdoor enthusiast Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.