Northwoods deer hunters react to antlerless ban

A deer scrounges for food in a Marinette County farm field.

ANTIGO - Some deer hunters in the northern part of the state are contemplating their next move.

It comes after the Department of Natural Resource's announcement this week eliminating antlerless hunting in that region.

Here are the facts about the Natural Resources Board's ruling.

Only bucks will be able to be shot in the part of the state. The area covers all or parts of 19 counties, all but two of them here in the northern third of the state.

The changes take place starting this fall.

The rule for now will be in effect for one year.

Both the archery season starting in September and gun season in November will be included in the ban.

Hunters in the zone have mixed opinions.

At J's Archery Pro Shop in Antigo, store manager Brian Waldvogel says the winter was hard on area deer.

"I heard one report where a guy found 13 dead ones," said Brian Waldvogel, J's Archery Pro Shop manager.

Waldvogel says a ban on doe hunting is a good thing, but some of his customers do not agree.

"Without having a doe tag he said, he said I can't shoot nothing. Because I don't see bucks, and I only see does, so it doesn't even pay for me to get a license, it doesn't pay for me to hunt anymore," said Waldvogel.

At Jerry's Sportsman's Lodge in Pickerel it's fishing season, but hunter Randy Pecha is talking deer.

"We just had too many hard winters. A lot of deer died. You got a lot of timber wolves, you got a lot of bears, you got a lot of coyotes," said Pecha.

And just up the road in Crandon, hunter Keith Chaney says wolves are part of the equation.

"There's a lot of them. A lot more than what you hear. Being in the woods every day, fall, winter, summer, you see a lot more than what they come up with for numbers, but they take their toll on deer too," said Keith Chaney, deer hunter.

The DNR wildlife biologists say wolves can kill about 16,000 deer each year. That's less than 5 percent of what hunters harvest in the same period.

DNR big game ecologist,Kevin Wallenfang said Wednesday that habitat and weather are behind the ban.

"It was one of the worst ones we've ever seen to put it bluntly. Prolonged cold and lots of snow and that can have an impact to the whitetail population," said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist.

Meanwhile, hunters hope the population will recover.

"That's what they got to do if they want to have more deer around here," said Pecha.

"I think it will be a good thing, it should help the herd," said Chaney.

"These deer have a knack of finding a will and a way to survive. There's no doubt that we did lose deer, but I was actually expecting worse," said Waldvogel.