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Is Public-Land Deer Hunting in Trouble?

October 09, 2012
Is Public-Land Deer Hunting in Trouble? - 10

A couple of months, ago Dr. James Kroll and his team of experts issued their long-awaited Wisconsin deer report. Among other issues, the report addressed the poor hunting found on Wisconsin’s public lands. Apparently the state has no way of regulating doe harvests on state forests and many sportsmen believe does are being over harvested.

This issue is not unique to Wisconsin. Many states set no harvest quotas on public lands. They are open to anyone holding a license and if they happen to have a doe permit they are free to take does off of the public areas. The problem of course, is there is no one around to put the brakes on the harvest. Load after load of hunters can hunt the public lands day after day. Eventually there are few if any does left on the public land and there is nothing left to hunt.

Private lands are generally another matter. Somebody is in charge and somebody generally sets a doe harvest goal for a given property. This allows for populations to be managed on a site-specific basis.

The Kroll report is recommending that doe tags be issued for specific public areas. This should control the doe harvest but also has the potential to limit access for doe hunters not having access to private land. Experts agree that the future of hunting depends heavily on hunters having somewhere decent to hunt. In many cases this means public land.

Comments (10)

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from Tc505 wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

here in la. we have a major problem. not just in the form of too many deer but land to hunt on. unfortunately we went to hunting leases 20 years ago. what little private land is available to hunt on is being shut off due to idiots shooting up stuff--mostly due to being there illegally. locally we have a wma which you have to buy a permit to go on but even that is threatened by one idiot around here that thinks he is a big fish and is trying to cost the wma their lease so that he and his buddies will have several more thousand acres to hunt on thereby shutting off available hunting land. although we have certain "doe" days--three per hunting season (alloted 6 per year and can be all bucks or 3&3 except on some leases where rule is 6 bucks only) we have deer being hit by cars nearly every day. if leases come to your state, fight them tooth and nail!!!!! many kids are now not being taught to hunt due to land being closed off.

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from eyeguy wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

Everyone who purchases a tag in WI gets a buck tag so everyone can still hunt. The limited tag system would stop every Tom, Dick, and Harry from "filling their freezer" with anterless deer from public land. Their are a lot of private land owners who hunt their property for racks and hunt public for meat.

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

Bigboylotz, I see what you are saying. But by limiting the amount of tags in certain public area, you in return decide some people can not go hunting. Public lands at least give some people the opportunity. I agree the hunting will not be quality hunting, but at least they can go. In Illinois there are other hunting seasons going on the same time as deer season also, I dont know if that is the case in Wisconsin, but I say let us be free. People will abuse this, but dont cut the guy out that depends on this land, give him or her the chance to hunt.

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from bigboylotz wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

This is simple, set a quota for the number of doe you want harvested and then only issue that number of tags for the public land. There are around 80 deer management zones in wisconsin. Create a sub zone for the public hunting ground and issue the permits.
Smakenzie, the problem is the sheer number of hunters that use the public ground during the gun season. Public ground in Wisconsin on the opening day of gun season is CRAZY. Human traffic (non hunters) isn't the issue on public land up here, it is the fact that deer on public land have a very small chance of survival unless they can sneak onto private land and hide. Even hunting parties that have there own private tracks to hunt will come on the public land to do late morning or afternoon drives. There is little human curtosy during rifle season with drivers walking all over the woods. You can always tell where the deer are because shots will follow them until they get killed or make it to the boundries. If you limit the number of doe tags people will have to be more cautous about what they shoot.

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from randall wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Only MO in my knowledge has a sales tax to support buying public land and even there they only have 7% of the land in control of MDC. Private land owners restrict harvest too much and cause disease to spread to deer on public land. This kills more deer than hunters. We need a national sales tax to by out farmers instead of paying them to maybe not grow crops, unless grain prices are high, then they can plow up the CRP acres. Deer should be managed scientifically, not politically. That won't happen on private land.

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from randall wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Only MO in my knowledge has a sales tax to support buying public land and even there they only have 7% of the land in control of MDC. Private land owners restrict harvest too much and cause disease to spread to deer on public land. This kills more deer than hunters. We need a national sales tax to by out farmers instead of paying them to maybe not grow crops, unless grain prices are high, then they can plow up the CRP acres. Deer should be managed scientifically, not politically. That won't happen on private land.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from nitrojoe wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Here in Michigan there are parts in the UP and Northern lower where it seems the public land is holding more deer now than it did the past ten years. It appears that the deer numbers got so low that people stopped "going up north" to hunt and stayed around home. This in addition with mild winters has allowed a few more deer to make it each year.

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from jjas wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

On public ground you can help solve overharvesting by issuing a certain number of permits for each piece of ground. When that number is met, hunting is done for the year.

How you do that is the question......

If you can't allow enough deer for the number of hunters that want access you have a draw.

If there are enough deer to allow hunts without a draw then you can limit the number of does to be killed per hunter so as to allow more hunters the opportunity. This number would be specific for each property. The hunts would continue until the season is over or the allowed number of does is met.

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

In hunters per capita, Wisconsin takes 4th place. Only 5.6% of Wisconsin is in federal land. These two statistics are the only thing most people would need to read to understand the quality of deer hunting on public lands in Wisconsin. Myself, I don't think it's a deer tag issue. I am assuming the public land is similiar in Wisconsin to where I live in Illinois, it is common in Illinois to run across shed hunters, squirrel hunters, family pictures, spring and fall mushroom hunters, bird watchers, hikers, bike riders, rabbit hunters, dog training, picnics, pheasant hunting, school activities, coyote hunting, poachers, dnr policing it, fishing, canoeing, duck hunting and etc.. you get the picture. I think for Wisconsin or Dr. Kroll to say under theese type of conditions that public land has been hunted so hard there are less deer is fictional and laughable, without a doubt the reason the deer are lacking in public areas that are being hunted is because of all the different human pressures. You and I freak out when one person walks in our deer bedding area by accident, could you imagine this. Don't confuse federal land that is not being hunted with human pressure, because that would be loaded with deer for obvious reasons. My opinion is, as much as I love to hunt and fish, it's everyones to enjoy as long as everyone is legal, let them continue to come and go as they please. If wisconsin wants to improve the quality of deer hunting on public lands, that's easy, do the math they need more land.

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from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

I could go along with a tag system for public hunting areas if a drawing is involved. The other thing is that I don't know of one farmer that cares how many does are taken. They just want them gone. On farms leased for hunting, the number of does may be controlled to some extent but I don't see much thought going into it. Maybe you are talking about the eastern part of the country.

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from nitrojoe wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Here in Michigan there are parts in the UP and Northern lower where it seems the public land is holding more deer now than it did the past ten years. It appears that the deer numbers got so low that people stopped "going up north" to hunt and stayed around home. This in addition with mild winters has allowed a few more deer to make it each year.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from randall wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Only MO in my knowledge has a sales tax to support buying public land and even there they only have 7% of the land in control of MDC. Private land owners restrict harvest too much and cause disease to spread to deer on public land. This kills more deer than hunters. We need a national sales tax to by out farmers instead of paying them to maybe not grow crops, unless grain prices are high, then they can plow up the CRP acres. Deer should be managed scientifically, not politically. That won't happen on private land.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from randall wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Only MO in my knowledge has a sales tax to support buying public land and even there they only have 7% of the land in control of MDC. Private land owners restrict harvest too much and cause disease to spread to deer on public land. This kills more deer than hunters. We need a national sales tax to by out farmers instead of paying them to maybe not grow crops, unless grain prices are high, then they can plow up the CRP acres. Deer should be managed scientifically, not politically. That won't happen on private land.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

I could go along with a tag system for public hunting areas if a drawing is involved. The other thing is that I don't know of one farmer that cares how many does are taken. They just want them gone. On farms leased for hunting, the number of does may be controlled to some extent but I don't see much thought going into it. Maybe you are talking about the eastern part of the country.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

In hunters per capita, Wisconsin takes 4th place. Only 5.6% of Wisconsin is in federal land. These two statistics are the only thing most people would need to read to understand the quality of deer hunting on public lands in Wisconsin. Myself, I don't think it's a deer tag issue. I am assuming the public land is similiar in Wisconsin to where I live in Illinois, it is common in Illinois to run across shed hunters, squirrel hunters, family pictures, spring and fall mushroom hunters, bird watchers, hikers, bike riders, rabbit hunters, dog training, picnics, pheasant hunting, school activities, coyote hunting, poachers, dnr policing it, fishing, canoeing, duck hunting and etc.. you get the picture. I think for Wisconsin or Dr. Kroll to say under theese type of conditions that public land has been hunted so hard there are less deer is fictional and laughable, without a doubt the reason the deer are lacking in public areas that are being hunted is because of all the different human pressures. You and I freak out when one person walks in our deer bedding area by accident, could you imagine this. Don't confuse federal land that is not being hunted with human pressure, because that would be loaded with deer for obvious reasons. My opinion is, as much as I love to hunt and fish, it's everyones to enjoy as long as everyone is legal, let them continue to come and go as they please. If wisconsin wants to improve the quality of deer hunting on public lands, that's easy, do the math they need more land.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jjas wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

On public ground you can help solve overharvesting by issuing a certain number of permits for each piece of ground. When that number is met, hunting is done for the year.

How you do that is the question......

If you can't allow enough deer for the number of hunters that want access you have a draw.

If there are enough deer to allow hunts without a draw then you can limit the number of does to be killed per hunter so as to allow more hunters the opportunity. This number would be specific for each property. The hunts would continue until the season is over or the allowed number of does is met.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bigboylotz wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

This is simple, set a quota for the number of doe you want harvested and then only issue that number of tags for the public land. There are around 80 deer management zones in wisconsin. Create a sub zone for the public hunting ground and issue the permits.
Smakenzie, the problem is the sheer number of hunters that use the public ground during the gun season. Public ground in Wisconsin on the opening day of gun season is CRAZY. Human traffic (non hunters) isn't the issue on public land up here, it is the fact that deer on public land have a very small chance of survival unless they can sneak onto private land and hide. Even hunting parties that have there own private tracks to hunt will come on the public land to do late morning or afternoon drives. There is little human curtosy during rifle season with drivers walking all over the woods. You can always tell where the deer are because shots will follow them until they get killed or make it to the boundries. If you limit the number of doe tags people will have to be more cautous about what they shoot.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from eyeguy wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

Everyone who purchases a tag in WI gets a buck tag so everyone can still hunt. The limited tag system would stop every Tom, Dick, and Harry from "filling their freezer" with anterless deer from public land. Their are a lot of private land owners who hunt their property for racks and hunt public for meat.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tc505 wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

here in la. we have a major problem. not just in the form of too many deer but land to hunt on. unfortunately we went to hunting leases 20 years ago. what little private land is available to hunt on is being shut off due to idiots shooting up stuff--mostly due to being there illegally. locally we have a wma which you have to buy a permit to go on but even that is threatened by one idiot around here that thinks he is a big fish and is trying to cost the wma their lease so that he and his buddies will have several more thousand acres to hunt on thereby shutting off available hunting land. although we have certain "doe" days--three per hunting season (alloted 6 per year and can be all bucks or 3&3 except on some leases where rule is 6 bucks only) we have deer being hit by cars nearly every day. if leases come to your state, fight them tooth and nail!!!!! many kids are now not being taught to hunt due to land being closed off.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

Bigboylotz, I see what you are saying. But by limiting the amount of tags in certain public area, you in return decide some people can not go hunting. Public lands at least give some people the opportunity. I agree the hunting will not be quality hunting, but at least they can go. In Illinois there are other hunting seasons going on the same time as deer season also, I dont know if that is the case in Wisconsin, but I say let us be free. People will abuse this, but dont cut the guy out that depends on this land, give him or her the chance to hunt.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

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