Deer council makes recommendations
Holiday hunt nixed for this season
By Greg Seubert
A holiday deer hunt is not in the cards this year in Waupaca County.
The same antlerless gun and archery quota as last year is on the table, however.
The county’s Advisory Deer Council met March 18 at the Manawa City Hall to recommend preliminary quota and harvest numbers for this year’s deer hunting seasons.
Hunters harvested 466 deer during the county’s last holiday hunt, held Dec. 24, 2018, to Jan. 1, 2019.
Council member David Lindenstruth’s motion to offer a holiday hunt did not receive a second, nor did council member Bill Krostue’s motion to not offer the hunt.
The holiday hunt is an opportunity to help reach antlerless harvest and deer population goals.
More than 20 people showed up at the March 18 meeting, including former council chairman Arlyn Splitt of Clintonville.
“I’m not a big fan of the holiday hunt,” he said. “It’s not like it was years ago when we had more deer.”
“I think the vast majority of people sitting here do not want a holiday hunt,” Krostue said. “I would not approved the holiday hunt because the hunter does not want that.”
Council member Scott Bestul asked audience members in favor of a holiday hunt to raise their hands if they favored a holiday hunt for the upcoming season. One person raised their hand.
The council then voted down a second motion to offer the hunt.
“My goal is to attract more hunters to Waupaca County so I’m going to second the motion to approve the holiday hunt,” council member Hugh McAloon said. “If we can bring more hunters here, I’ll help our buck-to-due ratio.”
McAloon and Lindenstruth voted in favor of the hunt, Krostue and Brian Haase voted no and Bestul, the council’s alternate chairman, broke the 2-2 tie with a no vote.
“I want to see what happens if we don’t (offer a hunt),” he said. “I shot a deer the last two holiday hunts. I guess I need to get off my butt and shoot one earlier.”
The council also voted 5-0 to recommend a quota of 7,000 antlerless deer for the upcoming seasons. That’s the same quota the council set for 2018, which was down almost 4,400 deer from the 2017 quota of 11,380.
“The public – almost 70 percent – wants to maintain the herd,” Krostue said. “Hunters are the vast majority of people that are affected if the herd is increased or decreased. I really think we’ve kind of reached the saturation point.”
Waupaca County consistently ranks near the top in terms of deer harvest, but several people at the meeting questioned the county’s deer population.
“I can go out for weeks and not even see a deer,” one man said. “If I do see a deer or two, it’s the same deer or two.”
“There are not the deer here than there was when I bought the land 15 years ago,” another said.
“I saw significantly less deer on my property than before and I attribute that to predators,” Krostue said. “They are taking down the deer population and the fawn population. There are factors other than hunters that are bringing the population down.”
“You’re all over the place with predators and a decreased buck harvest,” said Jake Fries, the county’s Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist. “I think it’s complicated by the fact that we have a very, very high deer population in this county.
“There are many that will disagree and I get that,” he added. “Hunter behavior has changed a lot in the last 20 years. Every metric out there shows there are lots and lots of deer in Waupaca County. I want there to be a high and healthy deer population in 20 or 30 years.”
“We’re not arguing that,” McAloon said. “Do we have more deer than we had 20 years ago? No.”
The public has an opportunity to comment on CDAC recommendations from April 1-11 before they are submitted to the state Natural Resources Board later that month. Details on how to submit comments can be found on the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov.