Many hunters in Wisconsin have been asking for something Michigan has had for decades — a separation of private land and public land antlerless deer tags.
The idea is that the number of tags awarded be based on the percentage of public land in the unit (counties, now) along with some sort of formula estimating the number of deer that can safely be taken off each year to make sure the management objective is met — whether to increase, decrease or stabilize the herd.
Since a lot of public land is overpressured, many believe making it harder to get a tag for a doe on public would help the herds rebound in those areas, making for more of a quality experience.
Local hunters will continue to get one free private land antlerless tag with each bow, crossbow or gun deer hunting license. They’ll need to apply for a $12 public land tag if hunting public and wanting to try to shoot a doe.
There was a lot of angst among a few at Monday’s Department of Natural Resources spring fish and game hearing at Kewaunee High School, men who either hunted both public and private or who owned private adjacent to public and wondered about wounded deer running to or from one property or the other.
The solution is simple, in my opinion. If you hunt private adjacent to public, either buy a $12 “insurance policy” tag for public, or “shoot to kill” on your private land. A doe shot in the brain or dead center neck or shoulder isn’t going anywhere; with a properly sighted-in firearm an experienced shooter can do that on a deer standing still 100 times out of 100.
There was also discussion that all the regulation changes this year and next are confusing. Some blamed the DNR even though the changes came about because of the Deer Trustee Report process.
People who are interested can check out how Kewaunee and Door County attendees voted, and the statewide numbers, at http://dnr.wi.gov/About/WCC/springhearing.html.
This year’s late fall through early spring period set all-time records for the number of days below zero and snow depths over 18 inches in many areas.
Reports of deer mortality have come in from across the state, though the hardest-hit areas were in the northern and central forests. There’s a very good chance that many counties up north will see buck-only hunts this fall.
About 30 percent of collared fawns in the northern study area have died over winter, with more mortalities possible since it’ll still be weeks until green-up there.
The winter severity index — anything above 100 points is considered very severe — hit record highs between 150 and 175 in some areas.
It appears that plenty of gobblers survived one of the most brutal winters in decades, with many youth hunters scoring last weekend. However, there’s a good possibility that plenty of birds died, too, and the long winter and cold start to spring could also impact hen health and poult production.
New this year, the DNR will provide first-time successful turkey hunters with a free, personalized certificate if the hunters fill out an electronic form and, if they want, submit a photo of themselves with their turkey.
Get all the info on the DNR website.
Online bird chat
Bird lovers can check out a live online chat April 22 on the DNR website where the conversation with state birding experts will focus on a parade of migratory birds moving through Wisconsin. Join the chat by looking for the box on the DNR’s home page or at www.facebook.com/WIDNR.
Fishing for info
The general inland game fish season begins May 3. However, there are many species and waters excluded from the season.
There are three fishing-related regulations booklets available to help you sort it all out: the 2014-2015 guide to hook and line fishing, and separate guides for inland trout and spearing and netting.
You can pick up copies wherever licenses are sold, or download them online off the DNR website at dnr.wi.gov.
There are many different licenses available, including a first-time buyer’s license — just $5 for residents — and an $8 one-day license that lets someone try fishing and if they like it, the cost is credited toward the purchase of an annual license.
The best bet for visitors hoping to hook a trout or salmon here, though, is the two-day license that includes the Great Lakes Salmon and Trout Stamp privilege. Cost is $14.
• Ice cover will delay the stocking of catchable-size trout in dozens of inland waters, but the upside is the fish will continue to grow bigger in hatcheries. Check a list of planned stocking sites and the numbers going in at dnr.wi.gov, keywords “catchable trout.”
• Check the remaining Green Bay ice from a satellite view. Search “Great Lakes MODIS images” and look for days with little or no cloud cover.
Kevin Naze is a freelance outdoors writer. Send him your comments and questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.