Kewaunee County wants extra hunts, four permits
The Door County Deer Advisory Council (CDAC) set preliminary 2020 hunting-season recommendations during an April 6 teleconference meeting.
After much debate – and a failed vote on reducing the number of antlerless tags awarded to three per license type – council members voted 5-2 for five free tags per license, 7-0 for participation in the antlerless gun deer hunt over the Christmas break, and, in a close vote, a return to an extended bow and crossbow hunt after a one-year break.
“We are maintaining [our deer herd], and our goal is to decrease it,” said Door CDAC Chair Dick Baudhuin, a Conservation Congress delegate who led the meeting but doesn’t have a vote.
Council member Greg Meissner said there are “a few less deer and a lot less food” in northern Door County, with no regeneration of favorable tree species due to overbrowsing.
“Deer numbers are down some, but there are still too many,” Baudhuin said. “In most woodlots, there isn’t good-quality browse left. If you do a clear-cut [to spur new growth], tag alder, buckthorn and phragmites choke it out.”
Agriculture representative Greg Coulthurst said few hunters are using more than one or two antlerless tags, but some take advantage of extra permits in areas that are overpopulated with whitetails.
“More or less it’s a statement to hunters that we have too many deer, and here’s an opportunity to do something about it without it costing a lot more money,” Coulthurst said.
He acknowledged that many families don’t eat more than one or two deer per year, or they’re concerned about the extra cost of paying someone to cut and wrap the venison.
“Maybe we should be teaching more hunters how to process their own deer, or encouraging more hunters to donate deer to the food-pantry program,” he said.
Prior to the meeting, transportation member Mark Schwartz acknowledged concerns that the county is vastly different north to south.
If the unit could be split so it could be managed differently, Schwartz said he thought County E – roughly from Egg Harbor to Baileys Harbor – would be the right spot.
“In general, it appears there are a lot fewer deer north of there than south,” Schwartz said.
The recommendation to allow bow and crossbow hunters to target deer throughout January was not unanimous. Coulthurst believes that bucks that survive the rut, gun hunt and December hunting “earn” the right to grow another set of headgear without getting shot over a bait pile in January.
“That, and some of the bigger bucks already drop [their antlers] by then,” Coulthurst said. “How many of the ‘antlerless’ taken were bucks?”
DNR wildlife biologist Josh Martinez said the first time Door voted for the extended opportunity (2018-19 hunt), there were 74 deer reported as antlerless and 19 as antlered bucks taken during the three-plus additional weeks of opportunity.
After considering public input, the Door CDAC will make its final recommendations during a meeting May 4 at 7 pm.
Meanwhile, the Kewaunee CDAC’s preliminary recommendation is four free permits with each license. The group voted to again participate in the holiday gun hunt and the extended bow and crossbow season.
This past season, during the first extended hunt in Kewaunee County, archers shot two bucks and 31 antlerless deer while crossbow users registered 10 bucks and 47 antlerless.
The Kewaunee County Deer Advisory Council will consider public input – both in person and from the online survey – before making its final recommendation May 6.
The online survey will run April 16-29. You should watch the recorded presentation before weighing in. Biologists cover a season recap, harvest figures, metrics review, season options and quota setting. You can find it at dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/cdac.html.