A tribal night hunt for deer was authorized to begin in the ceded territory of northern Wisconsin 50 minutes after dusk last night. This is the first-ever hunt of its kind.
The state Department of Natural Resources and Department of Justice say this hunt is illegal and dangerous. But Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission spokeswoman Sue Erickson says they won’t wait for a federal court hearing to begin this night deer hunt.
Erickson says all tribal members issued hunting licenses have to be certified through marksmanship training. In fact, she thinks it’s ironic that the state has issued about 1000 wolf licenses that includes night hunting, while so far only 74 tribal members have qualified for deer licenses. She says the tribes believe this hunt will be safe.
“They do not think they are asking for anything unreasonable, have more or less just taken the path of let’s just quietly go about our business, get this done," she says. "We’ll jump through all the hoops required and have really tended to stay away from the media hoopla, which is not the course that the state has taken.”
But Erickson wants to make it clear, this is not deer shining, where lights are used to attract deer. But both state Attorney General J-B Van Hollen and DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp are calling this deer shining. Erickson says this is using lights to illuminate the target before shooting.
“Certainly of all people, they know the difference between general shining and illumination at the point of kill," she says. "So yeah, their choice of terminology there was inaccurate and I’m assuming deliberate.”
The Tribal night hunt will continue until the first Sunday in January, barring a federal court order.