Deer hunting changes for northwoods hunters

Deer season changes would affect antlerless hunt in the northwoods

MARINETTE COUNTY - The harsh winter has led to an effort to limit deer hunting in parts of the state.

The Department of Natural Resources wants to suspend hunting for antlerless deer in some areas, for the upcoming season.

It's being called the worst winter in the last 20 years for the northwoods deer population.

"The double-whammy of deep snow, lasted a long time, and cold weather really affects mostly fawns," said John Huff, DNR Area Wildlife Supervisor.

The DNR wants to suspend antlerless hunting in the northern third of the state. A survey of collared deer in Sawyer County revealed 40% of those animals died, that's an increase of 17% over last year.

"We have had deer that we've lost, our winter broke a little earlier than it did in the northwest part or the northcentral part of the state. Most of the starvation losses that we saw were fawns just as you would expect," said Huff.

The proposal covers both the archery and gun season. At Hunters Choice Archery in Peshtigo, owner Bill Pluff says he will adjust.

"Myself and my wife are meat hunters, so we like to take some does, but obviously we understand that if it needs to bring back the herd, needless to say, I certainly can go a year without that," said Bill Pluff, Hunters Choice Archery Owner.

Just up the road at Cozzy's Polaris in Marinette, Mike "Chumly" Pairon says the ban could be expanded.

"I don't think I would go no bucks, but I definitely wouldn't have a problem with an eight-point or better, and let these smaller bucks get bigger," said Mike "Chumly" Pairon, Cozzy's Polaris Worker.

The ban comes after a second year of harsh conditions.

"Most of our impacts in 2013 were impacts to the fawn crop. They were a reduction in the number of deer that were born. This year, we had, and will certainly see that, but we also had some direct losses because of starvation," said Huff.

Huff says fawns that made it through the winter may or may not reproduce. And the effect of the harsh weather won't be known for at least another year.

The Natural Resources Board plans to take up the proposal at its meeting later this month.