Editors Blog

Public Land Deer Hunting: A Thing of The Past?

Tips for finding public landCould a state really “sell off” its public hunting opportunities? In this day and age, I guess anything is possible, but that is exactly what some folks think might happen in Wisconsin if Gov. Scott Walker has his way.

According to an article released last week, Wisconsin is about to go the way of Europe if Walker and his newly appointed deer czar get their way. If this happens, the group claims, public land hunters will get the shaft. The deer herd no longer would be managed as a public resource, but as the private property of wealthy landowners. Wisconsin will become like Europe, where hunting is the privilege of the wealthy.

This article is a bit like many political attack ads that we are seeing on TV.  They take a true statement but then give it a context different than the whole truth so as to create a horror scenario.

It is true that Wisconsin deer czar James Kroll (aka “Dr. Deer”) has made some scary statements since Walker hired him (for $150,000 a year) to review the state’s deer management program. Even more scary is the fact that Kroll is a founder of the Texas Deer Association (a captive deer breeders group).  He is also a principal apologist for the captive cervid industry and comes from a different planet (Texas) where privatization rules.

The DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp also talked of selling public land, but most think this will be truly limited to so-called “surplus” property (residential lots and structures willed to the DNR).  She will not be selling wildlife management areas, state parks, or state forests.   Most state land is protected by statute and there would obviously be serious push-back from the public if the Legislature went down that road.

Long before the Walker Administration took over, Wisconsin deer managers have agonized over the privatization trend and have asked themselves whether the European Model will be an unfortunate inevitability for Wisconsin deer hunters.  Over the past three decades, the sale of most farmer-owned woodlots to recreational owners has resulted in tight exclusive use of what formerly was free-by-permission hunting.  QDM, DMAP, and the demand for public-land and private-land antlerless permits are catalysts driving us in that direction.

Regardless of who’s in charge, it is very likely that some of these new initiatives and recommendations will push us further down that path.

Related posts on this topic:

Kroll Report: Is that all you get for your money?

Will High-Fence Bias Skew New Wisconsin Plan?

Top 10 Comments on Deer Czar Report

The Week in Review…

Lots of great comments and dialogue coming in on Facebook and Twitter this week. Here’s a glimpse at some of the best deer hunting tips and observations that I ran across.

First was a photo posted by BubbaDale on his Twitter page. He had read Alan’s article on mineral sites for deer.

how to make a mineral lick for deer

He writes: “This stump has had so much mineral salt I think it’s petrified!” You aren’t kidding … that thing looks like a fossil already!

•Another interesting observation came from our Deer & Deer Hunting Facebook page. After posting the article on how two longtime Boone and Crockett scorers were let go from the club after expressing their opinions on the King Buck, we asked everyone what they thought on the situation. Here are the unscientific results:

•Boone & Crockett should panel-score the rack:  85%

•Don’t know enough about the rack to give opinion: 9%

•B&C should stand by its decision not to panel-score it: 8%

Finally, don’t forget to tune in for Deer Talk Now every Wednesday. If you’ve missed the first two shows, don’t fret. We have them archived for viewing right now, including the unleased interview with Ted Nugent.