Hunting Hearing Draws a Crowd

Last night I counted 77 deer in about a 20 acre field. They were munching on the baby barley and tender alfalfa shoots. My neighbor at church said there are so many deer they are scaring away the turkeys. I thought turkeys and deer could live together.

Most folks around me are thinking about turkeys. But today I am thinking about deer.

In my neighborhood there are way too many deer.

This is not true up north. Hard winters and over hunting on public lands have decreased the deer population.

But in our part of the state those babies are multiplying.

The DNR has a challenge counting deer and figuring out how best to manage the state’s herd. The Conservation Congress is working hard and voting on possible ideas. At a public hearing in Madison, scores of citizens offered suggestions.

Last week bus loads of people dressed in camouflage and blaze orange came to Madison to talk about hunting. The Senate Committee on Transportation, Tourism, Forestry and Natural Resources and the Assembly Fish and Wildlife Committee held a joint hearing on deer management.

More than 700 people attended the hearing which filled the committee’s hearing room to overflowing. Many had to monitor the proceedings over loud speakers set up in two other hearing rooms. Over 100 people spoke at the hearing and the rest left written testimony.

Many wanted to do away with the Earn-A-Buck rule.

Earn-A-Buck – for those non-hunters – is a rule we have been following the last few years that requires hunters in Deer Management Areas to shoot a doe before shooting a buck.

If you shot a doe last year and did not get a buck, you get a sticker for this year’s buck.

If it sounds a little complicated, it is. The tavern where you register your antlerless deer must remember to give you a sticker, which usually happens. You must have that sticker when you shoot the buck.

The biggest problem is when the buck of a lifetime shows up under your tree stand, you can’t shoot him unless you’ve got your Earn-A-Buck sticker. For many hunters, this is maddening.

The DNR needs tools to control the deer herd. Earn-A-Buck is one tool that is very unpopular. Recently the DNR announced a one year moratorium on Earn-A-Buck which is welcome relief for hunters. But many at the hearing last week wanted to ban Earn-A-Buck all together.

“If we do that,” others ask, “what tools can we give the DNR to manage the deer herd?”

This is the question I pondered as Doug and I watched the white tails disappearing over the hill. Three of the deer just looked at us and went on eating the baby barley.

My husband laid on the horn in the pick up truck. “Get out of my field!” he growled at the deer.

“Go eat somewhere else.”

Got ideas on how to manage our deer herd? Let me know! Contact me at (877) 763-6636 (toll free); or write: State Capitol; P.O. Box 7882 Madison, WI 53707-7882 or email Sen.Vinehout@legis.wisconsin.gov.