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Instant Gratification and Hunting

December 23, 2011 Leave a comment

by Clint Dehnert

From my perspective, I see it getting harder and harder to have a realistic chance of harvesting a deer in Wisconsin.  For me, this chance is what drives me to get up at 4 a.m. and walk through the woods or a swamp in the dark. Hunting is a rite of passage and a tradition passed on by the elders. Groups of hunters are a brethren and the nine day season is anticipated for the whole year.  Good places to hunt for free used to be simply a knock on a door away.

Those days are simply memories that I treasure as of today. In the modern era of hunting, you buy a deer in one way or another. According to MS Forestry, leasing property is on the rise. This information is for Missouri, but it illustrates the trend that is going on nationwide. According to the link, land owners are leasing the recreational rights to their land for $3.50 to $15.00 an acre, per calendar year. This is good income for a land owner. Prime land calculated example; If you have a 1000 acre farm, and choose to lease it, it could yield $15,000 just for letting a group of outdoor enthusiast use it. On the low end, a farm this size would still bring in $3500.00 in residual income annually. My experience puts the figures of a 400 acre farm at $4.00 an acre in Southern Wisconsin.

To the non hunter, this is a lot of money and they may not believe this information, but it is the reality of the situation. The cost of purchasing land is what makes this trend reality. One acre of land with hardwoods on it brings a market price of $10,000. Ten acres of hunting land could cost in excess of $100,000.

You could just shot a deer in a pen, it is an option. It is possible to go to a deer farm and get it all done in one day. According to Maple Hill’s White Tails you will spend from $2000.00 to in excess of $12,000.00 for a trophy whitetail. I know most hunters would say  “that is not hunting!” Personally, I agree 100%. The fact of the matter is, once it is on the wall you can tell the story however you want. This is the world we live in. Instant gratification and money can buy anything, even deer tales.

I will stay away from the controversial topic of CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) and what the Wisconsin DNR has done to the ageless family tradition of deer hunting in Southern Wisconsin. I will not go on at length of the economic impact that the hunting industry has on rural towns and communities across the state. What I will mention is the decline in deer hunting when it comes to the archery sector of the season. When CWD was discovered in the deer herd in February 2002, bating was made illegal statewide. Not being able to better ones chances of seeing a deer has bow hunting numbers steadily declining. (The laws have been modified since 2002 to allow bating is select counties.) Bow hunters are dwindling, good places to hunt are harder to find, and the rules to pull the trigger are getting stricter every year.  Regardless of your views of fair chase or your preferred weapon, deer season just isn’t what it used to be, and that is sad.

A Voice is Heard, Kind of

December 13, 2011 1 comment

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