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NRB Approves Buck-Only Hunts, Expands Trolling

Ken Thomas

Deer hunting season will be buck-only this fall for many northern counties.  

The state Natural Resources Board has approved DNR staff recommendations for a zero quota antlerless deer hunt in 19 counties and four tribal reservations.  State officials say the restrictions are necessary to let population levels in the northern forest recover…after a harsh winter took its toll on the deer herd.

Ralph Fritsch of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation testified in support of the recommendations, saying northern hunters had long expressed concerned about the numbers of antlerless permits. 

“The severe 2014 winter has greatly increased their concerns about the deer population. The federation strongly endorses the proposal not to issue antlerless deer permits for the designated nineteen counties.”

For counties that will have an antlerless hunt, the board approved a new system that issues bonus tags for either private or public land.  Mike Brust of the Wisconsin Bowhunter’s Association voiced concern that hunters would be penalized if they shot a deer on private land and pursued it onto public land or vice versa.  But DNR Big Game Specialist Kevin Wallenfang said wardens would take that issue into consideration. 

“This is actually not a new situation. There has always been a possibility in the past that a deer has been shot in one unit, ran across the road, it’s happened before. Law enforcement has dealt it. They’ve always dealt with it with kid gloves, and understanding of the situation.”

In Wednesday’s meeting the board also expanded trolling opportunities, allowing anglers in 55 counties to troll with up to three lines per angler.  In the other 17 counties including Vilas, Oneida, Iron and Lincoln, trolling will now be allowed but limited to one line per angler…and no more than two lines per boat. 

Trolling refers to dragging a lure or bait behind a motorized boat.  Those changes will take effect in 2015, pending legislative review.  

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