I grew up and hunted my entire life in Maine. Maine doesn’t have a deer problem – at least meaning it doesn’t have too many deer in the majority of the state. There are some areas in the southern section where numbers are getting a bit out of hand but over much of the state and in particular the western mountains and northen Maine, too many deer aren’t a problem.
In contrast, take Wisconsin. They have too many deer. Most state wildlife experts use the issuing or antlerless deer permits to regulate herd numbers. In its most simplistic form, an area that has too many deer, authorities will issue more permits and vice versa for areas with too few deer. In Wisconsin there have been times when they ran a program called “Earn a Buck”, where a hunter had to first tag an antlerless deer before they could shoot a buck. This forced hunters to shoot antlerless deer and hunters complained.
A healthy deer herd is essential to the future of deer hunting. We all like to see deer when we go hunting afterall, that’s why we go but too many deer can present a host of problems – disease, depletion of habit that leads to starvation, to name a couple.
The sport of deer hunting has evolved for one reason or another into one of shooting the trophy deer. I’ll admit, I’m as guilty as the next guy in that I would much rather be able to sit down to my keyboard and pound out a story about the monster buck I got. This desire by more hunters to pass up does in order to take the trophy is part of the equation that has led to the rise in deer populations. Some hunters now will not even tag a deer unless it is a trophy.
Wisconsin ditched its “Earn a Buck” program and instead replaced it with a late season antlerless season. According to the Ironwood Daily Globe, DNR official Bruce Bacon isn’t expecting the woods to be full of hunters.
“We expect a few people who didn’t get any venison during the gun-deer hunt to go out,” said Bruce Bacon, Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist from the Mercer office.
Wisconson needs some herd culling, this is the reason for the antlerless hunt.
The hunt is being held because DNR wildlife officials say more than 100 of Wisconsin’s 130 deer management units have deer populations that need strong hunting pressure to reduce herd size.
Any antlerless tags that hunters have left over from the regular season are still good for the December 7 – 10 antlerless hunt. If you used yours up, you can purchase any number you want at $2.00 each. How many have been sold?
Iron County Clerk Mike Saari said Monday most hunters still have unused antlerless permits from gun-deer and archery seasons. Asked how many $2 antlerless permits his office had sold as of Monday afternoon, Saari said, “I haven’t sold any.”
Hopefully this trend isn’t holding true all across the state.
Have we become a breed of trophy hunters more than meat hunters? If this trend continues, there could be some real serious issues we’ll all have to deal with. Hunters need to become actively involved and work more closely with their state’s management people and help out with herd management by harvesting some does.
If you have enough venison in your own freezer, just about every state now has some kind of program to feed the hungry. I realize there are many factors to control whether or not we hunt and if and when we tag deer but if we all did just a little more, this would work toward improving the deer herds in those areas that need reduction. This in turn will help to ensure a better future for the sport.