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A Voice is Heard, Kind of

2011 is and forever will be one of Wisconsin’s most exciting and historical years. There was a Rose Bowl birth for the Badgers. The Green Bay Packers brought back the Vince Lombardi trophy to Green Bay. Let’s not forget the historic rallies and marches across the state, but mostly centered here in the middle of Madison.

Green Bay Packers helmet

Image via Wikipedia

People often dislike a law that goes into effect, or maybe even something somebody says. Often times, people are left asking themselves and anybody willing to listen a simply question – why won’t they listen to me? How many times has that statement been screamed, whispered, talked about, or cried about? Of course, this never happens overnight. Many times it takes some sort of organized effort to make a voice heard. Just as the anti-Walker protesters, people’s voices will be heard. Sometimes it takes a little longer than anticipated. The same holds true for the deer hunters of Wisconsin.

Deer hunters have thought for a long time that the Department of Natural Resources will not listen to what they want, or what they see. Hunters believe their opinion and the results that they see or don’t see should be accounted for when season times, lengths, and programs are being considered. When a thousand people show up for a meeting held by the DNR in a room that only holds around 400, it’s obvious that the hunters are not happy and they are going to try to make their voice heard loud and clear.

With the discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease in Wisconsin during the 2002-2003 season, Wisconsin fell into a state of pandemonium over what the disease actually is and what the effects of it are. Shortly after the discovery, the DNR created a plan that would all but eliminate the deer herd in concentrated areas where CWD was found. There was one season that required every deer shot to be tested in certain areas and across the state. Then, the earn-a-buck rule was implemented into the season structure. This required that every hunter must harvest an antlerless deer before they could legally harvest an antlered deer. The idea was simple – take out the deer that give birth to two or possibly three deer for the next year. The DNR got the results they were looking for – a smaller population of deer. There was and still is heavy debate on the end of the year numbers that the DNR comes up with to determine the size of the herd. Hunters hated this earn-a-buck system because they weren’t seeing deer. It should be noted that earn-a-buck is still being used in the CWD hunting zones. Protesters dressed in camouflage and blaze orange paraded around the Capitol. Meetings, that often got somewhat tense and fiery, set up by the DNR were overflowing with people.

Change came for Wisconsin deer hunters in 2011 as Governor Scott Walker used his power to eliminate the disliked earn-a-buck program. Finally, hunter’s voices were not only being heard, but being acted upon. The hunters throughout the state feel like they are having a say in how the season is being handled. Bow season dates along with four day antlerless-only seasons were ironed out in order to accommodate bow hunters.

Wisconsin continues to see slight increases in the number of people buying licenses. This helps business in all areas, because if a person is buying a license, there is a longer list of items they will more than likely buy. Camouflage and blaze orange clothing, ammunition, weapons, and footwear are just a few of the items that are on most hunters’ lists. Some say it’s a big win, and some say it’s just a baby step in the right direction. Let’s just put in this way, if people are mad enough not to go hunting, it will more than likely not help out many businesses that may be struggling in these hard economic times.

By: Pete Patten

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  1. December 23, 2011 at 3:08 pm

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