*UPDATED, 1:56pm 1/24/14
For those that travel east to chase whitetail deer in Wisconsin, your season might look a bit different soon. Multiple news outlets are reporting a change in the registration system. The major change being the shift from in-person deer registration to online or telephone registration. Minnesota and many other states have already made that change. Wisconsin could see a pilot program as soon as 2014 with the complete change in 2015.
While it will make things easier for the deer hunter, could it open the door for those looking to cheat the system? In a day and age where the tiniest management detail is scrutinized while every armchair biologist offers their opinions, could this threaten the deer herd numbers?
We asked Rick Scoglio of Paps General Store in Balsam Lake about the registration change.
“We’ve done it (registration) here for 30 years now. It (going electronic) would probably be a good thing, some people might cheat, but it would be simpler for everyone. They’ve been talking about it for years and other states have gone that way and it hasn’t caused any problems. We don’t get anything (from the state) for it so it doesn’t matter to me.”
We then asked him if he’s worried about losing additional income from the lack of the deer registering public. We were surprised by the response.
“Not really,” Scoglio replied. “We need more people to run the registration and the extra revenue doesn’t make up for it. The state doesn’t give us enough to cover it, I think it’s 35 cents and we register around 1000 deer every year. Most people just register their deer and leave.”
Todd Angel of St Croix Outdoors in St Croix Falls said, “With people not coming in the door, of course we’ll see a decrease in volume of business, but on the same token it’s very convenient. You can do it (register) from home, on your computer or on your phone. A guy could shoot a deer and call it in from his tree stand.”
Angel also expressed a worry about those who are going to break the law no matter what.
“You might have some people register a deer in a herd control unit where tags are $2, but shot it in an area where no doe tags are available. It’s a double edged sword.”
But what about that lost business? Is he worried?
“Myself, I’m not too worried about it.” Angel echoed what Scoglio said earlier, “Yes our sales will go down, but we have to pay people to do it…(now) we won’t have to pay someone to cover it.”
There’s no question it will make things simpler for the hunter. It will allow more time in the field, less time running to town and more time with family. And that’s what the deer hunting season is really based on, family and tradition.
“It’s a bummer that we won’t get to see the deer come in,” Angel added. “The kids won’t get to see all the deer and we won’t be able to take the pictures to put up of all the deer that come in. Losing that is the unfortunate part.”
Traditions have been disappearing by the wayside and Dave Cieselwicz (there’s a good Wisconsin name!) is worried that this is just another tradition going down the drain. He writes, “The one (registration station) our camp uses in Richland County is a little store owned by a woman named Sharon. You go there to register your deer, and guys are milling around telling stories. You ask Sharon how it’s going this year, and she fills you in on how the numbers compare to last year at this time. Maybe you pick up some beer or some chips. If you’ve done well, you might let that big buck linger in the back of the pickup awhile longer than it really needs to, just so that it can be admired by others stopping by the station.” Read his entire article about it here.
The Wisconsin DNR is following recommendations from Texas deer researcher James Kroll. This has been somewhat controversial as people have worried that the Wisconsin could turn into a ranch-style hunting state that would decrease the amount of public/private land that could be hunted and result in hunting clubs and pricier leases.
Other changes could include reducing the number of deer management units, which have allowed for a buck and an antlerless tag per license, plus inexpensive bonus antlerless tags available over the counter. A new system of management units has been proposed using county borders as the zone borders, along with 4 new management zones.
They are also considering restoring a statewide restriction on harvesting albino deer.