Thursday, April 03, 2008

MISSISSIPPI NEWS: Governor to Veto Deer Baiting Ban Bill

House bill 1089, the so-called "Deer Baiting Bill," has passed both the house and the senate. But word from the governor's office is that Haley Barbour plans to veto the bill, keeping it from becoming law.

But it may not matter whether it's law or not, because deer baiting is already a common practice here in Mississippi.

"When you go outside and you're in the woods, I just love being outdoors myself," said hunter, Bill McKee.

Many hunters like Bill McKee enjoy the thrill of the hunt, whether they bag the big buck or not, just hunting deer is enough for them. Still, McKee also keeps a feeder on his property.

"We have a lot of people that do it, matter of fact, I've got a feeder I keep out year round just to supplement the food for the deer," said McKee.

And McKee's not alone, I spoke with many hunter's who didn't want to talk on camera who say they may not hunt over corn feed or bait but they'll keep it on their property to keep the deer on their property. House wildlife committee chair, Bo Eaton says hunters want an even playing field.

"In Louisiana, it's legal, in Arkansas,it's legal and Texas and these hunters in the state want to have the same opportunity as those hunters in the other states that adjoin Mississippi," said Eaton.

For some it comes down to a matter of ethics, they say there's no fair chase no sportsmanship in killing a deer over bait.

But Eaton believes the decision to bait or not, should be left up to the hunter.

"What's best for the hunting public and this is an ethical issue that's before us and the hunters, in my opinion, if you feel like it's unethical then don't do it," said Eaton.

Last year, the wildlife commission was given authority to allow deer baiting. At this point, they are doing field tests to study how it affects the deer population.


WISCONSIN OPINION: October Deer Hunt is Back

Pat Durkin's latest column:

Now that Wisconsin again will offer an October gun season for antlerless deer — our second-most popular hunt when held statewide in recent years — critics say the state Department of Natural Resources is ignoring its customers.

Let's pause for those who seldom follow deer hunting's inner debates.

OK, you guys. Let's concede the lead paragraph is a contradiction that makes no sense. But critics believe hunters hate this early season, even though harvest data shows the four-day hunt trailed only the traditional November season for participation.

Got it? OK. Let's continue.

To make this hunt even more popular, the DNR will move it to Oct. 16-19. Previous October gun hunts were closer to Halloween, which overlapped bowhunting's prime time.

Readers might recall why the agency canceled these hunts in 2006 and 2007: A stakeholders committee, which included all state deer hunting groups, wanted to show the DNR we didn't need October gun hunts to reduce deer numbers.

The committee voted in July 2005 to try these tools instead during the two-year experiment: extra free antlerless tags, a statewide December antlerless gun-hunt, a longer archery season and a two-day October youth hunt.

The experiment included this benchmark: Hunters must achieve a two-year antlerless-to-buck harvest ratio of 2-to-1, or the October season would return in 2008.

The results are in, and only the Central Forest region met the 2-to-1 ratio. Well, technically, it didn't, but the DNR figured a 1.95-to-1 ratio was good enough for the government. (Remember, the DNR ignores its customers.) Therefore, the five deer-management units in this small area won't have an October gun hunt.

The antlerless-to-buck ratios averaged 1.6- to 1.75-to-1 in the other four DNR districts. If not for widespread earn-a-buck regulations, which hunting groups opposed, those averages would have been worse. The ratio was 1.2-to-1 for deer units without free antlerless tags, 1.7-to-1 for areas with unlimited free tags and 3-to-1 for earn-a-buck areas.

Further, in CWD (chronic wasting disease) zones, the ratio was 2.8-to-1 with earn-a-buck and 1.2-to-1 without it. This, despite hunters' promises to shoot more does and fawns if the DNR dropped earn-a-buck regulations in 2006.

It did, and they didn't. Lesson learned.

An objective person would agree hunters failed to meet goals set by their representatives. But objectivity is irrelevant in deer hunting. This is Ford vs. Chevy, Packers vs. Vikings, Gordon vs. Earnhardt.

That's why seven of 18 members on the Wisconsin Conservation Congress'big-game committee voted Saturday to reject the DNR's proposed 2008 deer regulations during a meeting at the Mead Wildlife Area near Milladore.

Before voting, they reviewed a lot of DNR data without dispute. For instance, the 2007 harvest showed a combined gun-archery kill of 518,573, Wisconsin's second-highest kill on record. The archery kill, 116,042, was a record.

They even heard appeals to their integrity from fellow committee members, reminding them that their representatives approved the 2006-07 experiment.

Ken Anderson of Eagle River said: "I don't enjoy someone saying the October hunt is being shoved down our throat. We had two years of warning. You guys all agreed to it; 2-to-1 was the ratio. We didn't get it done. Now you want to go back on what we agreed to?"

The opposition's response: The DNR shouldn't bully them. Hunter harmony and customer satisfaction would improve if the DNR dropped the October gun hunt.

It's odd that professed businessmen in the group made that argument. Whether it's the DNR, Wal-Mart or Joe's Tavern, few can define — and none can measure — customer satisfaction.

In deer hunting, we can't even link it to success. Some hunters weren't happy in 1971 when archers and gun-hunters combined to kill 77,357 deer. Judging by today's malcontents, a kill of nearly 520,000 deer didn't make hunters seven times happier than 37 years ago.

This much is certain: The big-game committee's majority realized that sacrificing October's gun season would not satisfy such a crowd.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

MINNESOTA NEWS: Emergency Bovine TB Rule Targets Deer, No Permit Required

Landowners, tenants and their designated agents can shoot deer without a permit in an expanded area surrounding where bovine tuberculosis (TB) has been found in cattle or deer in northwestern Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Sharpshooters will also be used as part of an overall strategy to significantly reduce deer population density in and around the bovine TB management zone.

An emergency rule effective March 31 and continuing through Aug. 31 allows landowners, tenants and their agents designated in writing to take deer on their property with a firearm, bow or muzzleloader at any time.

The new landowner/tenant zone comprises a 934-square mile area of portions of Beltrami, Marshall, Roseau and Lake of the Woods counties. The area includes deer permit area 101 and an expanded area north to the Canadian border. The expanded area is bounded on the west by state highways 89 and 310 and on the east by the Thompson Forest Road, County Road 5 and state highways 11 and 313. Details, including a map of the area and the specific rule restrictions, are available from area DNR offices or on the DNR Web site at

"Implementing this emergency rule is another tool to help get ahead of this disease and ensure it doesn't persist in Minnesota's deer population," said Paul Telander, regional wildlife manager in northwestern Minnesota.

Provisions of the emergency landowner/tenant shooting rule allow deer of any age or sex to be taken without limit or license provided that before transporting the deer, landowners and tenants tag each deer taken with their name; the township, range, and section where the kill took place; and the date of the kill.

All deer must be field dressed at the time of the kill and carcasses - or heads if deer are retained in possession - must be taken to the Wannaska Forestry Office, Grygla Forestry Office, Thief Lake Wildlife Office, Olson's Skime Store or DJ's Salol Store within 48 hours of the kill so they can be tested. Possession tags are required for all deer retained in possession. Tags for both possession and transport will be available at drop-off points.

As the weather warms and deer carcass salvage becomes more difficult, a refrigerated truck will be stationed at Olson's Skime Store. Landowners and tenants are encouraged to

promptly bring deer to this station to help preserve as many carcasses as possible.

The emergency rule was enacted as part of an overall strategy that also includes expanded and special hunts as well as contracting with U.S. Department of Agriculture sharpshooters. Sharpshooters have taken 351 deer as of March 27.

During the first two weeks of April, the DNR will hire an aircraft to supplement sharpshooting efforts, Telander said, resulting in the closure of all wildlife management area lands within the TB management zone (deer permit area 101). WMAs scheduled to be closed include Golden Valley, Grygla, Hayes, Marbel, Mickinock, Moose River, Palmville, Wannaska, Wapiti, and portions of Reed Lake and Thief Lake. The following state forest roads will be signed closed beginning Monday morning: Morehouse, Stotts, Winner, Neheim, Penturen, Summer, North Moose River Dike, Moose River West, Moose River East, Luxemberger, Highwood East and West, Tofte,Palsberg, Black's Winner, Root, Mortenson, River Road (east of the private cabins), Thompson.

Permits allowing landowners to shoot deer have been available since March 18. To date, 50 permits have been issued and 33 deer taken. The new emergency rule replaces the permitting process, Telander said. Samples also have been obtained from three elk.

DNR officials tested more than 1,100 hunter-harvested deer for bovine TB in 2007. They discovered four infected animals, bringing the total number of infected deer to 17 since surveillance efforts began in 2005. Telander said sharpshooters and landowners have taken 384 deer so far in 2008. Two of those deer, all adults taken within the 164-square mile core area, showed signs of potential TB but lab tests are required to determine whether any infection is present.

"We need to keep the pressure on deer within this small area to reduce the risk of this disease becoming established in the deer population," Telander said. "The prevalence of the disease in wild deer remains low and is restricted to a small geographic region."