Wisconsin's Early Deer Hunt Offers Earn-a-Buck Opportunity

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The antlerless deer hunt in the chronic wasting disease Management Zone (CWD-MZ) Oct. 14-17 is an opportunity for hunters to prequalify for a buck authorization sticker.

CWD management units have an earn-a-buck (EAB) season structure in 2010, meaning hunters must first harvest and register an antlerless deer before shooting a buck. Hunters in CWD management units may earn a buck authorization sticker by registering antlerless deer, which can be used during a later season when it is legal to harvest bucks.

Only antlerless deer harvested and tagged in a CWD management unit will earn the hunter who tagged the deer a buck authorization sticker. Hunters must register their deer at a designated deer registration station located within the CWD Management Zone in a unit no farther than one unit away from where the deer was harvested, and they should request a buck authorization sticker for each antlerless deer they register. Buck authorization stickers will not be mailed to hunters.

If a sticker is earned during the 2010 deer hunting season, and it goes unused, hunters should hold on to their stickers for the 2011 hunting season. Buck stickers earned in a year previous to the 2009 hunting season are no longer valid. Valid buck authorization stickers are not transferrable to other hunters, but hunters may use their buck sticker and carcass tag to tag a buck for another hunter during the November or Holiday gun deer seasons under group hunting situations.

During other seasons when it is legal to hunt bucks, hunters may also tag an antlerless deer and then harvest a buck, which may accompany the antlerless deer upon registration, as long as they are tagged by the same hunter registering both deer.

Replacement buck authorization stickers - A hunter may receive up to one replacement buck sticker per year if they lost or never received a buck authorization. The hunter must have tagged and registered an antlerless deer in CWD management unit from the 2009 or 2010 hunting season. Stickers are replaced at designated DNR Service Centers on days and hours when service desks are open. The hunter's deer registration record will be checked in a database first to see if they are eligible to receive a buck authorization sticker. Then, hunters will be asked to fill out and sign a sworn affidavit before they receive their replacement sticker. False claims of deer registration may result in fines and/or legal penalties.

Why Earn-A-Buck? The number one reason why DNR has EAB in the CWD-MZ is the agency's belief that the total deer harvest at the end of the hunting season will be far greater with this regulation than any other, including unlimited either-sex. This translates into a herd that's closer to goal at the season's end and the probability for containing CWD the greatest, notes CWD coordinator Davin Lopez.

"We owe it to the statewide deer herd, to the people of Wisconsin, and to our neighboring states to use the most effective hunting regulations for shooting the most deer and reducing the spread of CWD. In the modern history of Wisconsin deer hunting, no other regulation has come close to EAB for increasing deer harvest," points out Lopez.

The CWD coordinator admits that it would be simpler to just allow everyone to shoot any deer in the CWD-MZ in that no one would have to pass-up a buck because they had not shot an antlerless deer yet.

"This system would work if all landowners and hunters were totally committed to reducing the deer herd in the CWD-MZ. We often hear from landowners and hunters who are committed to the goal and don't understand why we have EAB."

"But we also hear from hunters and landowners who say that many hunters will not shoot all the bucks and antlerless deer they see," says Lopez.

DNR, in response to those who don't like EAB, did enact either-sex season in the CWD-MZ in 2006 and 2007 and despite the earnestness of many hunters, the antlerless kill was no where near that needed to meet the population goal in the CWD zone.

"The Department strongly believes in EAB's effectiveness for herd reduction and containing the spread of CWD. We simply have to be successful. Too much is at stake to use anything less than the most effective regulation in our tool box," adds Lopez.