Is Public-Land Deer Hunting in Trouble?

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.