Over the course of the last few years, the state of Wisconsin has taken some good strides in terms of making new laws for outdoorsmen.
We no longer need to use gun or bow cases. We have mourning dove and wolf seasons, as well as plenty of other rules that are pending. These make being a hunter or fisherman much more attractive. The turkey season is another good example and it's what I'm writing about today.
Turkey hunting started out with baby steps. Hunters had to (and still need to) apply for a permit to hunt turkyes. If and when you were drawn, hunters were given five days to hunt, with hunting ending by no later than noon each day. Hunters had to follow the time period the DNR dictated.
Fast forward to 2013.
Some things have changed positively, but not in big enough strides. And it's very frustrating to many of today chasers of thunder chickens.
Hunters still apply for chance to obtain a tags. Time and again, I've seen people receive notice that they've been denied a permit, yet there are left over tags. These tages will be bought later and sometimes a lucky hunter will wind up with two or three tags. This year, people were only given two time periods to choose from instead of six. Many hunters (myself included) drew a tag and but didn't receive the time period I selected. I can't tell you how many people that has happened to, but I know of several.
With the late winter we have had this year this may be a blessing for me, but it hurt a lot of other hunters. This brings me to my next idea, how about scrapping the current season format?
Wisconsin should do away with the ridculous way it has set up its turkey season for a number of reasons. For starters, the $3 application fee should get removed.
If money is an issue for the DNR, then take the $3 and add it to the license fee, which leads to my next point. The DNR should sell the licenses over-the-counter to anyone who wants one. The DNR may make more money, because there would be no denials for people and more licenses sold, but limit it to one tag per customer if the DNR is worried about over-harvesting.
If they aren't worried about too many turkeys taken under this plan, then sell additional tags for a fee. Set the season as a 30-45 day season in the spring.
This year's cold, wet, and in many places, a snowy spring really hurts hunters' chances and many in the earlier seasons went home empty-handed because either they couldn't get out or the birds weren't following normal routines.
A straight-up season would benefit hunters by allowing more freedom to pick and choose the days they hunt, increasing the harvest and satisfying more hunters, which in turn would likely produce more license sales in the following year.
We have something along those lines in the fall, where hens are fair game, but fall turkeys aren't something most people are after that time of year. A one size can, and should, fit all in the spring. It eliminates confusion and frustration with the DNR, and would give them more credibility in the eyes of the people who pay their wages (you and I). Not to mention the turkey population could certainly handle it. I believe that there are plenty of birds to go around.
Wisconsin has made some good progress when it comes to turkeys. No one argues that. We have a seven day season and can hunt all day, instead of just mornings. And hunters can register their birds by phone, instead of going to a registration station.
The are all good steps, but it's time to take a bold leap into the future. If we don't, the sport will suffer.
It's a bad system, that needs a fix sooner rather than later. The state should consider a longer season before hunters get fed up with the process and it's too late.