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BDH
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Location: Northern WI
Joined: 12/21/2008
Posts: 38
Rethink Your Hunting Methods

Deer license purchases are up this year in Wisconsin. That's good news for our sport. Deer harvest numbers are way down following the most active part of the season. That's not good for a lot of reasons. Most are blaming the DNR for inaccurrate deer herd estimates. Some are blaming the the regional subseasons and complicated regulations including the Earn A Buck (EAB) program. A whole lot of hunters are just complaining.

Like most of the hunters here I have my opinion too following months in the woods searching for the elusive whitetail. After spending many , many weeks scouting and then hunting from early fall through our snowiest (is that a word?) December in history I've come to this conclusion. It's my fellow hunter's fault. The deer harvest is down because we've changed our hunting method and it's not working.

I'm a primarily a bowhunter and I hunt on a 15,000 acre public hunting area about 5 miles from my house. The Wolf River cuts through this area so I'm able to scout a lot from my boat during fishing season. I also hunt small game there and pretend to go varmint hunting as well. This area contains about every terrain feature you'd expect to find in northern Wisconsin. Some of it is very accessible and some of it is true bushwhacking at it's finest. The animal population is high from the sign that I have seen during my scouting trips.

I learned to hunt and fish on the family farm located along the Wisconsin River in the southern part of the state. Bow hunters were still frowned on by a lot of the old timers and you wore red during the gun hunt. My brothers and I were pressed into service on the big deer drives until we were old enough to become shooters. Back then success was measured by how much meat you put in the freezer not the measurement of the rack. I don't even want to think about all of the trophy racks we threw back in the barn or down in the basement while we were busy butchering. We were worried about the lean days ahead and how good that venison was going to taste on Christmas Day not whether our deer would make it into the papers or on TV. Now before you think these are the ramblings of a cranky old fart hear me out.

I married my high school sweetheart and we left Wisconsin as Uncle Sam gave us an all expense paid tour of the planet for the next 20 years. I retired in Colorado so my kids could finish college and then took my lovely bride back to her favorite place in the world...Wisconsin. But before we arrived I had learned a few things hunting big game in Colorado and it has made me a very successful hunter back home. The secret to success? Learn how to stalk effectively. Have you watched any of those hunting infomercials on the Outdoor channel or VS? How many elevated semi permanent sky box hunter condos do you see placed over cultivated food plots in prime elk and mule deer territory out west? I mean some of these places that have sprouted up here need a building permit to go along with the lighted, all season ATV parking area and the escalator.

OK I can hear you yelling. I have made a few concessions to creature comfort myself but that's not my point. If you want to be consistently successful and put game in the freezer you have to learn how to go to the game. The game isn't going to come to you just because you spent a lot of money and that's what they guy at Walmart said would work.

. You can't expect to throw on the scent blocker, glance at your laptop for the latest trail cam photos, fire up the ATV , race to the stand, sprinkle some C'mere deer around before relaxing in the strato lounger until that stupid P&Y trophy whitetail shows up at precisely 9:06 a.m. and presents you with a perfect broadside 20 yard shot. It might work that way on TV (or in those petting zoos they "hunt" on in Texas) but it doesn't work that way in the real woods. Not for long anyway.

Before you start throwing things at your PC...wait. Hunting from an elevated position along established game trails is effective some of the time. I'm not condeming it. We used to do it years ago...but we didn't do it all of the time. Now if the deer stop coming around we run to the store and buy some more "snake oil" from some guy in Alabama who doesn't know a damn thing about whitetail hunting in Wisconsin. Hell he can't even spell Wisconsin right.
Instead we should hit the ground and find out where the deer have gone and if possible...why.

. Stop shopping, get out of the trees and start stalking. Hunt from the ground. I began hunting this public area without any help. I didn't know anything about the area but I did my homework and legwork and I have been successful when my friends and co workers were skunked this year. Some of them even offered to let me hunt in their stands. They felt sorry for me because I had to degrade myself and hunt on public land. Now I'm laughing all of the way to the freezer.

I arrowed a nice 145 lb doe the first day I bowhunted. She came in from my side and I shot her at about 12 paces...from the ground. She went down 28 paces away. The hardest part of that day was hauling her out of the swamp. Boy what I wouldn't give for my own helicopter...

I got my buck, nice 8 pt about 180 lbs, six days later near the same oak island inside the swamp where I took the doe. I taught all of the little creatures some new words and phrases as I grunted him out to the boat. Heres's a tip for you multi vehicle hunters. Ever try to lift a big deer into a boat in slippery knee deep mud while mosquitoes are swarming you in a sudden rainstorm? Me neither, until that evening. The trick? Find two or three stout branches or logs ahead of time and use them as an improvised ramp to roll or slide the deer into the boat. Hunting is so much fun!

OK I'm almost done. Hunting one way all of the time is like going fishing with one lure. You might catch a fish but the odds are against you. After awhile you'll get frustrated and quit. You might even start watching the DIY channel and offer to help your wife around the house (in severe cases such as that I suggest you seek therapy immediately). Get out of that treestand and walk around...slow. Really look for sign...don't pretend. Learn how to move and walk correctly. Always pay attention to the wind. Set up before the peak travel times if possible and know how to set up immediately if you happen upon some hot sign or a well used trail. Know how to move and reset if the conditions change. But most important...change your methods...because your opponent most certainly will. Now i's time to rearrange my gear. load up the .223 and grab my snowshoes...I happened to see these coyote tracks as I was scouting around for next year. Merry Christmas and good luck in the new hunting year.

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Location: Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Joined: 01/13/2007
Posts: 368
Rethink Your Hunting Methods

Well Said!!

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Location: NE Wisconsin
Joined: 01/05/2009
Posts: 9
Rethink Your Hunting Methods

All I can say is that we are hunting the same way we did 10 -20-30 years ago and we are seeing fewer and fewer deer each year. We have even tried new things and have expanded our territory. The WDNR has been successful in deterring our younger hunters from wanting to buy a license and hunt. The local game wardens agree that the deer numbers are down, but cannot say anything for fear of there jobs. The WDNR has a hidden agenda, but what is it?

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Location: Dunn County WI
Joined: 02/11/2009
Posts: 20
re-thinking your hunting methods

As I see it, it don't matter what way you hunt deer, if the herd has been erradicated as in alot of areas of WI you won't succeed. The WDNR has done a wonderful job at managing our deer herd to almost the point of no return in some areas. I live and hunt on my land in N/W WI and the past few years the herd has diminished to the point that you are lucky to see a deer. We have neighbors that have bought into the DNR's philosophy, Shoot as many as you can, cause we are over-run with deer. Folks let me tell you, I hunted the ten day season on our land and some other private land and saw two deer all season. It wasn't just me not changing my hunting stratagies, but no deer left.
I walked the three hundred acres after season and saw three sets of deer tracks. One hunting group not too far from us had a picture in the paper with fifty four antlerless deer hanging in a tree. How many of them deer do you think were nubbies? This act alone will cause that area unrepairable harm, and how many other areas have the same thing going on in our state. I disagree with your statement that we need to change our hunting stratgies.
What we need is to raise enough hell with the DNR, and say enough is enough of this erradication and start managing the herd properly. When good ole Jim Doyle can appoint people (who don't hunt or fish) to run the DNR, the good ole day's of deer hunting will be gone forever. People who can't count, add, are making the decisions on our resources in this state. Shame on You! Shame on You! Shame on You!

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Location: NE Wisconsin
Joined: 01/05/2009
Posts: 9
Rethink Your Hunting Methods

Check out this web address and consider joining, I hope it will be the voice Wisconsin hunters are looking for.

http://grouseridgesports.com/whuhome.html

BDH
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Location: Northern WI
Joined: 12/21/2008
Posts: 38
Rethink Your Hunting Methods

Whitetail deer are territorial. They don't range like Mule deer. If a good, well managed herd is on your property it will always be there unless something interferes with their habitat or disease decimates the breeding population.

The mindset in Wisconsin seems to be that if I own property I deserve to have deer...period. If I used to see deer on my property then I should always have deer there for my friends and I to hunt. Not so and it's not the WDNR's fault. We all know deer herds fluctuate. The health and safety of prime breeding populations are most important to the overall numbers in a whitetail herd. You don't need a degree in wildlife biology to figure this out. If deer habits change you need to change your tactics. If the herd on your property disappears you need to figure out why...no one airlifted them out in the middle of the night. For some reason they left your area and moved somewhere else...or you and your neighbors killed them all. No one said you have to shoot them all. I disagree with EAB too and I would rather not hunt than kill out the breeding population on my property.

Most of the guys I work with are whining about the same thing. One guy I work with, who was born and raised in this area, needed a ride home in January. We took some back roeds i wasn't familiar with and I was shocked at the number of deer we saw on that ride. It was just about sunset and we counted at least 50 in one group and almost as many in two other groups before we got to his house. I asked him why there were so many big healthy deer in this area and he said they are too hard to hunt back in the thick cedars and tamarack swamp so most guys don't want to go in after them. He told me that when he was young his Dad actually shot them from the back porch. He said the locals have always had a great deer herd in this area...mostly because it's kind of remote with a lot of good cover, food and water. We also saw 2 foxes, a coyote and lots of squirrels. I guess we drove about 3 miles.

I've been back there several times since that day and have seen even more deer. It's amazing to see that many in one area. I've secured an invitation for both bow and rifle season and plan to fill the freezer again. The hunt won't be easy and I'm sure there will be more misses than hits but I'm really looking forward to exploring that swamp.

My hunt this year wasn't easy either. The odds were against success but I hunted hard and worked hard to find the deer in their area instead of expecting them to come to me. Hunting public land in an unfamiliar area may not appeal to most but the deer were in there and I filled my tags. In fact I think I'll fix up a nice venison stew before I head out for coyote hunting tonite. Those little dogs are coming into heat in the next few weeks and the boys will be all stirred up...it's cold at 2 a.m. but that's huntin...nuff said.

Never bring a knife to a gun fight

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Location: Pennsylvania
Joined: 10/28/2003
Posts: 1647
Rethink Your Hunting Methods

This topic reminds me so much of the same issue facing Pa. hunters. There are deffinatly less deer in the woods but that is exactly what the PGC was trying to accomplish and they did. Now guys are complaining that there are no deer and its not worth hunting. I was seeing less deer too in my old hunting locations (mostly because I shot them out) now I hunt in other locations. Last year when every one else stayed home on the second day because they didn't see any deer on the opener (we used to see 40 or 50 deer on the opener in Pa) I went out and saw no less than 30 deer (in my new spot) and killed one. The next day I killed two more (In another different spot) then on the next day I wasn't going to kill any more deer unless a nice buck came along. A real horse of a doe (the 9th deer of the morning, it was 8:30am) stopped and stood broadside at 20 yards and I decided that I was going to end my season here and get back to work early with 4 real nice deer for the freezer.
My point here is that everyone that tried their tree stands that they had been shooting deer out of for the last 10-20-or 30 years got discouraged, then finally gave up. I went out and found new areas to hunt and found ALOT of deer. Less guys kill deer now, that is for sure. The PGC has reduced the deer herd, that is for sure but there are still ALOT of deer out there to hunt you need to move your spot and find them.
One little point I would like to make is that if you built a tree stand in a hot area 20 years ago. The reason it was hot then was because it was thick and the deer had either cover or food there. Now the area is very different then it was back then and the deer have moved on to "greener pastures" Big smile

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Location: Dunn County WI
Joined: 02/11/2009
Posts: 20
Rethink Your Hunting Methods
hobagbrad wrote:
Check out this web address and consider joining, I hope it will be the voice Wisconsin hunters are looking for.

http://grouseridgesports.com/whuhome.html

I did and I'm with ya! There will always be some that will do nothing and complaine, however I will not sit back and let things keep going the way they are. I know all the things that are said that blame the hunters for the shortage of deer. This is absolute nonsense! I didn't just fall off the pumpkin truck. I have been hunting deer for over 40 years so I know whats going on.

They always say : "you didn't hunt hard enough, or deer constantly move, or try getting off your stand and look for deer."
I really wonder why some guys just wont admit that the killing of antlerless deer is causing the herd to be so low in some areas.

You know what? We are not letting any one hunt on our land this year 300 acres and the farmers by me are closing their land and there is alot of public land that you can't get to with out crossing. Now d-ya think the deer will prosper on our area? I bet I will see more than two deer next year on our (refuge). We may do this for two years if need be. Also a farmer knows what is on his land better than the DNR, But I'll never tell, and if it's EAB again We aren't buying lisences. neener! neener!

All I can say is there are alot of guys that think as I do, hit em in the wallet.

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Location: NE Wisconsin
Joined: 01/05/2009
Posts: 9
Rethink Your Hunting Methods

This totally is the WDNR’s fault they refuse to look at the numbers, and is doesn’t take a degree in wildlife biology to figure out that the deer population in Wisconsin has gone down by around 34% since 2004, all you need is basic algebra. Look at the car kill statistics in Wisconsin the number of deer killed since 2004 has steadily decreased. In 2005 car kills down 14%, 2006 down 11%, 2007 down 2%, 2008 down 10%, total car kills down since 2004 34%. Statistics are totally neutral they don’t lie and eliminate emotion from the calculation. This cannot be explained by change in habitat, different driving methods or smarter more educated deer, only by a lower number of deer state wide.

“Never bring emotions to a statistics test”

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Location: Dunn County WI
Joined: 02/11/2009
Posts: 20
Rethink Your Hunting Methods

Hobagbrad;

You said it all!!!!!!!!!!!
Now why don't the WDNR understand what is happening? This question will never be answered as long as hunters carry on as usual. Thumbs up :thumbsup1:

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Location: Pennsylvania
Joined: 10/28/2003
Posts: 1647
Rethink Your Hunting Methods

I heard that the WDNR instituted a program to train the deer to cross at the deer crossing signs. Now that they are being more carefull the deer/Vehicle accidents are way down. Thumbs up

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