Wildlife Federation Predicts Recent Changes To Deer Season Will Be Scaled Back

DNR Reorganized Hunting Zones, Disallowed Shooting Of Does

Hunters in the northern one-third of the state weren't allowed to shoot does this past hunting season. Photo: Barbara Friedman (CC-BY-NC-SA).

A Wisconsin hunters group says it expects some of the big changes to Wisconsin’s deer hunting regulations to be scaled back in coming years.

Last year’s nine-day gun-deer hunt was a test case for some major deer management changes suggested by a deer trustee appointed by Gov. Scott Walker. Among them was the Department of Natural Resources’ shift from 134 specialized deer management units to county-wide management zones.

Ralph Fritsch of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation said county-wide zones limit how the DNR deals with overpopulation.

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“There is never equal distribution of deer throughout an area,” he said. “So, I see counties asking that maybe in the farmland, that they harvest at a higher rate than they would in the forest area of the county.”

There are now 72 county deer advisory councils across the state. Fritsch said he expects some to call for special zones within their counties in the next two to three years.

For most hunters in in the northern one-third of the state, 2014 was also the first year in recent memory that they could only shoot bucks. The change was an attempt to rebuild a dwindling deer herd in the northern forest. But Fritsch said killing too many bucks could hurt that effort and lead to fewer buck tags.

“I think within two years, if this continues, the department might be forced to say, ‘If you’re going to harvest a buck and participate in deer hunting, you might have to make a choice,’” he said. “Do I take that buck during archery season or do I take that buck during gun season?”

Four groups of hunters, including people with disabilities, were still allowed to shoot does last season. Fritsch said it will be interesting to see how many does were killed.