Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Felons Can Still Buy Wisconsin Hunting Licenses?

Here is an article posted by the Wausau Daily Herald that talks about how felons that are banned from possessing firearms still have the ability to buy hunting licenses.  Seems a little off to me, glad there are changes being made.

Felons might see hunting changes

Those banned from possessing firearms by Wisconsin law also could be banned from buying firearm hunting licenses.

Currently, those prohibited from possessing firearms, such as felons, still can buy the licenses.

Rep. Jeff Smith, D-Eau Claire, is working on a bill that would make the change and create other types of licenses for those people. Deadline for co-sponsorship is 5 p.m. Friday, and Smith hopes to introduce the bill in the coming weeks.

During the 2009 nine-day gun deer season, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wardens arrested 29 felons in possession of firearms in the field.

"This is about safe gun hunting for everyone and making sure that people follow the law," Smith said.

He said current law sends a mixed message. The bill also creates archery for bear hunting, archery for turkey hunting and air gun or archery for small game licenses for those who can't buy a firearm license.

Combined licenses still will be available, and nothing changes for those who can hunt with firearms, Smith said.

Tom Van Haren, a conservation warden with the Bureau of Law Enforcement in Madison with the DNR, said there isn't a current prohibition because all licenses issued, with the exception of one, carry the option of using a bow and arrow.

"There's no reason for them to have that license, really," he said. "We support what this bill is attempting to accomplish."

Van Haren said a violation could net a penalty of more than $1,000 to more than $2,000, including court costs. Violators also would have all hunting privileges revoked for five years.

Portage County Sheriff John Charewicz said he doesn't recall the department finding someone illegally hunting with a firearm. He said the department does receive reports of convicted felons hunting with firearms, but reports are often unfounded or anonymous.

It is a problem because there are no checks to prevent convicted felons from purchasing firearm licensees, Charewicz said.

Source: Wausau Daily Herald
Article Link: http://www.wausaudailyherald.com/article/20100126/WDH0101/1260636/1981/WDHsports/Felons-might-see-hunting-changes

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Getting to Know the Whitetail Deer: When are Whitetail Fawns Typically Born?

Typically in November, female whitetail deer will go into heat. During the “rut” phase or breading season, male “buck” whitetail deer will go through the mating process. Gestation periods for female whitetail deer lasts 200 days, which results in fawn births to happen during late May to early June. Female whitetail that don’t become impregnated during the early phases of the November “rut” period will go into heat again in December or a month later. This results in another potential wave of fawn births to be in later June early July.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

When and Where to Search for Whitetail Antler Sheds?

One would say that the best time to search for whitetail sheds is when they fall the head of the deer. Well, they’re right.

However, determining when deer shed their trophy antlers is an inexact science and will definitely be different year to year.

Most whitetail bucks in the Midwestern part of the country will shed their antlers from December until the end of March, with the majority losing their antlers sometime in February.

Determining when best to look will be based on several factors. Factors include nutrition, genetics, stress and injury. Other factors can include late breeding activity and weather such as a harsh winter, with deep lingering snow and bitter cold temperatures. This causes deer to have a weakened body condition and lowered testosterone levels.

According to an article from ESPN, “With testosterone levels in bucks already decreasing since the peak of the breeding season, the pedicle where the antler is attached to a buck's head can become prematurely softened, allowing antlers to be thrown as early as the end of regular gun season.”

In milder winters, deer that might normally have shed in February can hold onto their headgear well into March and even into April in some cases.

If you are out looking for sheds, you should also know that as soon as an antler hits the ground, that you are not the only ones hunting these sheds. Rodents such as mice, chipmunks and squirrels quickly devour the antlers for the calcium they provide. Some antlers are consumed within the first 24 hours on the ground.

Where should I look for antler sheds?

Good places to search right away would be antlers that are deposited in or near woods. If you are not quick enough, these are the first to be consumed by the friendly neighbor critters. Antlers that are left in the middle of a field, or hidden from view, however, often remain untouched for months.

Check under low hanging tree limbs. Average bucks will travel in brush or the cover of trees and branches catching antlers help the removal.

As well all know bigger bucks will be found coming from swamps and thick cover. If you start be checking the edges of swamps early in the shed season, you should find yourself a trophy set assuming you have a trophy whitetail in the area.

Winter food sources, such as cornfields, are always a good bet. Follow trails from feeding areas to thick bedding areas.

It also is a good idea to walk remote fence lines, checking closely where deer have jumped across. Already loosened antlers often jar loose when a buck hits the ground after a planned leap.

Good luck in your search!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Flip-flopping Doyle on Major DNR Issue

Here is an interesting article from the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune about how Governer James Doyle quickly changed his position as soon as he removed himself from the re-election running.  Some would say that this isnt a surprise.

MADISON -- Question: When can an elected official ignore his constituency at no risk to his political career?

Answer: When he no longer is a candidate.

Thus, Gov. James Doyle -- a lame duck in political parlance -- has vetoed Assembly Bill 138, which removes authority to appoint the secretary of the Department of Natural Resources from the governor's office and returns it to the Natural Resources Board.

Doyle announced this past summer that he would not seek re-election, then proceeded to veto the bill, irritating supporters of the legislation who have fought for years to take DNR leadership and decision-making out of the political arena.

"This is a bill that has been sought by hunters, anglers, trappers and others interested in the outdoors for the last 14 years," wrote George Meyer, head of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, an umbrella group encompassing more than 120 outdoor-related citizen organizations throughout the state.

Even more frustrating to the bill's proponents is that Doyle switched sides on the issue, even using his early support for restoring Natural Resources' Board control to his political advantage.

"Remind the governor that he fought to change to a governor's appointed secretary in 1995 when he was attorney general," Meyer urged his constituency in an e-mail.

"Also remind him that when he ran for governor in 2002 and 2006, he ran for office indicating he wanted the Natural Resources Board to appoint the DNR secretary."

Meyer pointed out that 85 percent to 90 percent of those voting at the state's annual fish and game spring hearings favored Natural Resources Board control of the secretary position.

"The governor has repeatedly appeared before the Conservation Congress and many other groups indicating that he would sign the bill," Meyer added.

So why has Doyle backtracked?

Apparently the view from the governor's chair does not provide the same perspective as a seat outside that arc of power.

Doyle has said the DNR is better off under gubernatorial control and that returning the secretary a Natural Resources Board position "harms a strong environmental agenda."

Proponents of the bill contend that when DNR's key administrator serves at the discretion of the governor, that official is subject to being swayed by initiatives likely to keep the governor in office.

It's no secret that DNR personnel feel less secure commenting on fish and wildlife issues than they did in the past. Agency personnel worry about offending key legislators, causing the governor to lose political capital.

Prior to gubernatorial control, it was common for the DNR secretary to take the lead role in addressing legislative initiatives affecting the agency or the hunting and fishing public. Rarely is the secretary heard these days.

Before the position became a gubernatorial appointee, the DNR secretary typically had a strong background in the natural resource field.

Since becoming governor, Doyle has appointed two DNR secretaries with little training in natural resources. His first selection was from the publishing industry and the current choice was an administrator in the criminal justice system.

Now we have a huge brouhaha over the DNR's deer management policies, which resulted in a 2009 gun deer season buck kill that is the lowest in nearly 30 years.

Deer hunters are upset. Should some of their ire be directed at the governor? After all ... he's been in charge of the agency for the past eight years.

Author: By Jim Lee • Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers • January 17, 2010
Source: http://www.wisconsinrapidstribune.com/article/20100117/WRT0204/1170447/1835/WRT02

Special Hunting Season in Wisconsin for Soldiers

Representative Chris Danou of Trempealeau was the chief sponsor of an approved special gun deer hunt for Wisconsin soldiers who missed the regular hunting season due to being overseas.

State lawmakers approved this special hunt which combines returning soldiers and landowners that are having crop damage due to nuisance deer.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the original legislation would only allow the hunting season to run from February 4th to February 7th but lawmakers expanded the season substantially. Vets can now hunt any day between now and September which allows for the convenience to the soldier and landowners.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Not Enough Rack: Sheboygan Monster Buck Comes up Short

According to the Sheboygan Press article, the monster buck shot by Michael Gregoire on November 5th, 2009, fell well short of the mark.  Below is the rest of the Sheboygan Press news release.

Monster buck shot by Michael Gregoire near Sheboygan Falls comes up short of world-record Milo Hanson Buck

The much-talked-about buck Michael Gregoire shot with a bow and arrow on Nov. 5 on his brother's farm in Sheboygan Falls was judged non-typical and given a score of 175 3/8 inches at a measuring Thursday night in Fond du Lac.

Mark Miller, an official measurer for the national Pope and Young Club and for the Wisconsin Buck and Bear Club, and another unnamed volunteer scored the Sheboygan Falls man's whitetail, which fell well short of the state record. The mandatory 60-day drying period, during which most antlers shrink, had expired this week.

Image from Sheboygan Press.com
Michael Gregoire of Sheboygan Falls poses with the buck
he shot Thursday November 5, 2009.
Photo courtesy Michael Gregoire

"Especially on these extraordinarily large deer, we have a system in place to make sure everything is exact on them," Miller said. "Sometimes there are really unique configurations of antlers, in which case you have to look at the manual. Ninety-nine percent of the deer are straightforward and take about an hour to measure."

Miller, of Fond du Lac, is the same judge who spent three hours this fall measuring the Wayne Schumacher Buck, the state's largest non-typical shot with bow and arrow at 243 6/8 inches.

"It's not in the same class as the Schumacher Buck, by any stretch," Steve Ashley, head of the Wisconsin Buck and Bear Club, said of the Gregoire Buck. "Any experienced measurer can look at the pictures and know that."

Gregoire's 12-point buck on Nov. 5 taped out at 217 5/8 inches, a gross measurement of the rack done by an official green scorer. If judged typical, and with minimum deductions, that measurement would have topped the world-record, Milo Hanson Buck, which measured 213 5/8 and was taken with a rifle in Saskatchewan in 1993, according to Boone and Crockett

Article Source: http://www.sheboyganpress.com/article/20100107/SHE0101/301070121/1062/SHE01
Author: Brian Gaynor

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

When It Comes to the Wisconsin Deer Herd: Its a Numbers Game

As the deer population number debate goes on, its time to become educated on how numbers are derived when determining population counts. Obviously, the numbers arent going to be exact, but numbers should be close....or closer.  Here is a good article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the numbers game that is being played from hunters in Wisconsin, state officials and  the Wisconsin DNR.

"DNR's numbers don't add up

Hunters are taking fewer deer, and that could be because there are fewer deer out there than the DNR says. That's a problem.

The state Department of Natural Resources says it is listening to deer hunters' complaints about the agency's management of the state's deer herd. If so, it needs to do a better job of convincing hunters because many of them aren't buying the explanation.

Hunters' complaints need to be more seriously addressed, especially on management issues and on how the agency estimates the size of the herd. A thorough review of both is in order.

The dissatisfaction has only increased in the wake of the last gun deer season, in which hunters registered 195,647 deer, the fewest in 27 years and 29% fewer than in 2008. Journal Sentinel business reporter Joe Taschler reported that the effect of the low numbers is being felt across a number of businesses, including body shops, butchers, farmers, taxidermists and auto insurance companies.

"If you've lost the hunters, you've lost the program," state Sen. Neal Kedzie (R-Elkhorn) said at a public hearing last month, waving a packet of 8,400 comments from hunters.

Kedzie's right. The DNR - and Wisconsin - can't afford to lose the hunters.

Ron Kulas, a representative of the Wisconsin Bowhunters Association, presented data at last month's public hearing showing car-deer collisions have fallen to the same level as 1983, when the DNR post-hunt population was 586,000 deer.

And Greg Kazmierski, representing the Wisconsin Hunters Rights Coalition, said the 2009 gun deer harvest of bucks was the lowest since 1980, when the DNR estimated 565,000 deer overwinter.

The current overwinter goal is 737,000 deer, but there is reason to question the DNR's numbers given the claims of hunters. The DNR cannot manage the herd or set reasonable population goals if its numbers are off. The state is slated to receive an estimated $14.4 million this year from a wildlife restoration fund. It should use that to improve herd estimates and to get a better handle on such factors as the effect of natural predators and the loss of some previous hunting areas to development and private purchases. The state also needs to look at its regulations on hunting antlerless deer.

Hunters aren't the only ones putting pressure on the DNR. In a unanimous vote, the Assembly Committee on Fish and Wildlife and the Senate Committee on Transportation, Tourism, Forestry and Natural Resources refused last week to approve the DNR's proposal for its deer population goals for this winter, sending the proposal back to the DNR for revision.

As Journal Sentinel outdoors writer Paul Smith has pointed out, deer management is a tough job. And it certainly gets tougher when state officials have to also deal with mitigating factors such as chronic wasting disease, a deadly and not fully understood wildlife disease that has the potential to devastate the deer's herd.

It's also true that, as DNR Secretary Matt Frank has argued, that the agency has to balance a number of complex factors when setting deer population goals, including hunting, forestry, agriculture, public safety and animal disease. And it's entirely possible that some hunters have become spoiled by the large size of deer herds in previous years.

But even with all that, something is still not right. State officials need to do a better job of responding to the concerns of hunters and legislators."

Source :http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/81039082.html
Date: Posted: Jan. 9, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

Record number of baiting violations in Wisconsin

According to a report by the Department of Natural Resources, wardens responded to a record high number of baiting violations during the last hunting season.

DNR report states that wardens found 334 baiting violations during the nine day gun deer season along with 42 feeding violations - down 22 percent from last year.

The DNR warns that baiting and feeding deer increases the potential for spreading disease among Wisconsin's deer herd.

Source: WKOW

Thursday, January 7, 2010

29 Wisconsin Felons Arrested for Deer Hunting

According to the article from the Piece County Herald, 29 felons were arrested during the 2009 Wisconsin whitetail deer hunting season which according to the DNR the highest in seven years. 

Rest of the Article:
MADISON - Twenty-nine Wisconsin felons were arrested for deer hunting with a gun in November. And the DNR says that’s the highest number in the last seven years.

Chief warden Randy Stark says felons cannot possess firearms under state or federal laws – but they can still buy hunting licenses.

State Assembly Democrat Jeff Smith of Eau Claire wants to change that. He’s working on a bill to ban felons from buying any kind of gun license for hunting – and violators would pay fines of up to a-thousand-dollars. Nine felons were arrested for weapon possession in the 2008 gun deer season. Sixteen were picked up in ’07, and nine in ’06.

Source: http://www.piercecountyherald.com/event/article/id/23296/group/Outdoors/

Time for an Independent check on Wisconsin deer herd estimates?

According to an article on the NewsoftheNorth.net - A northern Wisconsin lawmaker says he will push for “independent validation” of new deer herd estimates by the state Department of Natural Resources.

“I’m glad that legislators on two committees (Senate Natural Resources/Assembly Fish & Wildlife) agreed unanimously this week to give voice to deer hunter dissatisfaction with the condition of Wisconsin’s deer herd by returning to the DNR an administrative rule setting statewide deer population goals for the next couple of years,” Sen. Jim Holperin (D-Conover), said.

DNR has come under criticism for allegedly mismanaging deer herd estimates in recent years, including the most recent hunting season which saw a 29% drop in the harvest. Many hunters complained about the lack of deer during the gun season and put much of the blame on the department.

Holperin, who chairs the Senate Natural Resources Committee and represents the 12th Senate District covering northeastern Wisconsin, said “The statewide deer population goal proposed in the rule (748,000 animals, up from the current 737,000) may be the proper number needed to balance the interests of hunters, forestry, agriculture and human safety, but there’s not an easy way to know that without an accurate count of how many deer there are in the woods right now, and hunters have been properly skeptical of recent DNR estimates in that regard.

“Legislators on the committee are hoping the department will respond by telling how they plan to get independent validation of their herd estimates, or what other methods they intend to use to make their population estimates more credible with hunters.”

Holperin said the department should begin reassuring hunters that, especially in northern management units, “serious herd rebuilding strategies will be put in place for the 2010 hunting season and beyond, if necessary.”

He added, “The legislature looks forward to hearing from the Department soon and anticipates continuing to work with the Department to assure that deer hunter voices are heard loud and clear in the rule-making and deer management process.”

Last Dec. 17, three weeks after the gun deer season ended, DNR Secretary Matt Frank testified before a joint Senate and Assembly legislative committee that the department’s 2009 pre-season forecast anticipated a lower harvest primarily due to an expected reduction in antlerless harvest.

Frank said, “This reduction was a response to population declines in the last two years which were a result of herd reductions efforts as well as below average fawn production. Statewide preliminary registration figures indicate the harvest during the nine-day gun season was down 29 percent from 2008 to 196,098. This includes 86,708 antlered bucks -- a 12 percent decrease -- and 109,390 antlerless deer – a 39 percent decrease from 2008.

“We know that the herd is smaller in some regions of the state which is why we took action to reduce the harvest in those areas. During this season, 13 deer management units had no bonus antlerless permits. 38 units were moved out herd control to regular season, and 29 units were moved out of earn-a-buck, all contributing to a decline in antlerless harvest. In all, the number of regular units increased from 21 in 2008 to 59 in 2009.”

He told the panel that in some areas of the state the deer population is below goal, and efforts are focused on increasing the population. “Overall, fewer deer on the landscape equals fewer deer seen and fewer harvested. We must continue to manage toward a sustainable, healthy deer population,” he added.

Source: http://newsofthenorth.net/article/Government/State_and_national/Lawmaker_wants_independent_check_of_any_new_DNR_deer_herd_estimates/32497

DNR to Conduct Aerial Deer Herd Survey in CWD Zone

News Release Published: January 7, 2010 by the South Central Region

Contact(s): Robert Rolley, Population Ecologist, Madison: 608-221-6341 Don Bates, CWD Operations Supervisor, Dodgeville: 608-935-1947

FITCHBURG – Once again, Department of Natural Resources biologists will conduct an aerial deer count over parts of the chronic wasting disease Management Zone (CWD-MZ) of southwest Wisconsin during January, weather permitting.

Agency biologists will use a helicopter to determine the number of deer in Deer Management Unit 70A encompassing much of Iowa County and western Dane County, near Devil’s Lake State Park, and Hollandale.

Biologists estimate the survey will take at least 10 days but “everything is dependent on having at least three to four inches, preferably six to twelve inches, of snow on the ground to cover logs and stumps so deer are clearly visible on the landscape,” noted agency wildlife population ecologist Robert Rolley, Madison.

The blue and white colored helicopters will be manned by a pilot and two observers and “even in perfect weather we won’t be done until the third or fourth week of January,” added Don Bates, CWD operations supervisor, Dodgeville.

DNR frequently uses aircraft for wildlife population surveys, such as counting bald eagles and trumpeter swan nests, and tracking wolves. The helicopter deer survey flights are conducted about 100-150 feet above tree-top level at speeds of 35-40 miles per hour. If livestock are observed in the immediate area, the altitude is raised to avoid spooking the animals.

All gun deer hunting seasons now closed

All gun deer hunting seasons now closed

The last of Wisconsin’s gun deer hunting seasons closed on Jan.3, 2010.

A previous news story incorrectly stated that a late gun hunting season in the CWD Management Zone, known as the Holiday Hunt, extended through Jan. 11, 2010. The Holiday Hunt ran Dec. 24 – Jan. 3, 2010 and is now closed.

Archery deer hunting in metro herd control units runs through the close of hunting hours on Jan 31, 2010.

See the 2009 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations pamphlet for details

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert Manwell (608) 264-9248

Source: Wisconsin DNR