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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 6:59 pm 
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The following is Tomahawk Leader Co-Publisher Larry Tobin's column from the 12-5-06 issue. At the end he seeks your thoughts and experiences from this and recent gun deer hunts:

Maybe only complainers talk to me. That said, I suppose no one will speak to me anymore for fear of being labeled a whiner like me, but that’s probably another issue.

To date, I’ve only spoken to one person who had what would be called a really good gun deer hunting season. Everyone else either saw very few deer or, in quite a number of cases, none at all. A lot of guys told me they shot the only deer they saw, whereas in other years they’d pass up smaller bucks and see lots of deer. Heck, five or six years ago I passed up six different bucks during the gun season. For a number of years in either the gun or archery seasons I’ve only shot bucks with four points on one side or adult does.

For the second year in a row I saw just one deer during the gun season. This year the one deer came 10 minutes before the legal shooting on opening day. I hunt in Unit 25 in Brantwood and I’ve been saying for several years now that the deer population there has been declining to next to none.

Since the harvest was down this year in Price County, maybe the DNR will pay attention now but I doubt it. T-Zones and too many bears have destroyed what used to be good deer hunting there. It took me eight years to get a bear kill tag (only four years the first time) and I saw 10 different bears from one stand in eight days of hunting. That’s a lot for a small area. There are wolves not too distant from my place but I’ve only seen two sets of tracks in 14 years. I don’t think they are an immediate problem in my area, probably because they’d starve!

There were some interesting sidelines in this year’s hunt for me. I know there was a lot of illegal activity, for one thing. On the Thursday before gun season I bow hunted (the last legal day of the early season). Between 4:30 and the time I got back to my cabin at 5:05 I heard more shooting than virtually all opening day of gun season. People were sighting in rifles, obviously, but a good many of them (from the sound of the shots) at brown, moving targets. When you don’t have to register a deer for more than a week, who can tell whether it was shot on Saturday or the Thursday before, right?

The weather was dead calm on the opener and I could hear traffic on Hwy. 8 (a mile and a half away) like it was 100 feet from me. I could hear a long way. Between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. I counted the sound of gunshots – anything to keep awake. Fourteen! I’ve heard more shooting from grouse hunters earlier in the fall.

Again on Sunday morning it was dead calm. I could hear a vehicle moving slowly on the gravel road half a mile north of me. The property between there and mine is posted and not hunted as far as I know. There were two shots and a moment later the vehicle took off, in a hurry this time, speeding north onto County Road D.

My guess? Cynic that I am, someone shot a deer from the road, on private property, and planned on coming back after dark to retrieve it.

I’ve loved hunting nearly all of my adult life but it comes with the expectation that I might at least see a deer at any given time. That anticipation is part of the thrill of the hunt. At my Brantwood cabin I no longer have that expectation. So far in the pass two years, between archery and gun seasons, four of every five outings I’ve seen nothing at all (if you don’t count turkeys). I used to be confident that I’d see six or more deer at any sitting.

Speaking of turkeys, during the archery season, for the first time since I began bow hunting in 1973, I have only had two possible shots at a deer. Both were small bucks – a little five-pointer and a spike that would not have qualified as an antlered deer. It was early in the season and I passed on both. I was going to shoot a doe one evening, just to put some meat in the freezer, but a couple of dozen turkeys on the other side of me saw the movement and flew. The doe did everything but the same.

With the anticipation of seeing deer all but gone, the lure of the hunt in Wisconsin is waning for me also. I hunted only opening weekend a year ago and the same this year with the addition of Tuesday afternoon. It’s become a matter of not being worth the bother since I know there is little likelihood of seeing anything. Between checking after recent snows and rain before that, all the deer sign I’ve found could have been made by all of three animals.

I’ve decided to concentrate more on hunting in other states. I spend a lot of time in Montana hunting elk but now I’m going to start looking for more deer hunting opportunities as well.

Some friends of mine and I have also applied, without success, for archery licenses in Kansas. Now, however, we have enough preference points that we’re virtually guaranteed licenses in 2007. Guess where I expect to be at the height of the deer rut next fall? I’ll give the one or two bucks left in my corner of Brantwood a break to have fun with the three or four remaining does.

What do you think?

Anyway, I’d like to know what you think of the deer season. Send me your thoughts, keeping them as brief as possible. Include your name, address and telephone number and send them to: Larry Tobin, Tomahawk Leader, P.O. Box 345, Tomahawk, WI 54487 or e-mail to larry@tomahawkleader.com.

No guarantees that we’ll have room to print every one but I am willing to forward them all (along with my own) to the DNR. Maybe it will start a trend or, if I find out everyone’s having fun but me, I’ll shut up on the subject.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 9:57 am 
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Deer, what deer? In nine days I saw one small buck on opening day and a doe and fawn on Sun. After that my sole source of entertainment was watching two grey squirrels chasing a red one. And this is in a area where they had over 13,000 bonus tags. The last Fri., Sat. and Sun. I heard a total of seven shots all three days. I don't know where the dnr gets their numbers from, but it isn't anywhere near reality.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 10:24 am 
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I hunted hard every day but Thanksgiving, sitting along trails and sneaking through bedding areas. I saw a couple dozen deer and passed up a few smaller bucks (less than 8 points). All in all an enjoyable year but not a great one.
Based on my own observations and from talking with many others, I'd agree that the population numbers are nowhere near as high as what we've been told - at least in the northern part of the state.
I'd offer two suggestions to improve the hunting up here:
1)Eliminate all baiting so that deer will get back to their natural travel/feeding patterns. Baiting has caused deer to become much more nocturnal and the chances of seeing any during daylight hours are pretty slim when their bellies are full of corn and they don't need to get up and forage for natural food.
2)Shoot NO DOES north of HWY 64 for the next few years to allow the population to increase.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2006 7:45 pm 
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I went out the first morning and saw no deer until about 9am when I shoot a buck with a nice rack but only five legal points and at about 10am shot two does and a half hour later the guy I hunt with shot a fawn buck. So with all the deer to clean up we quit, registered them, skinned them that afernoon and quit pretty much for the season. So I can for the first time in many years say I saw less deer but I only spent a half day in the woods.

I would prefer a season similar to squirrel season with what ever bag limit the biologists suggest, one, two, three, or whatever. I'm mainly into it for the eating so fawns or yearling are fine with me. Would you settle for eating an old bull when you can dine on a tender calf? A several month season similar to some other states would spread out the hunting and avoid the circus-like atmosphere of the thanksgiving week madness. This has gotten worse in the last 15 years with the plethora of ATVs, portable ladderstands, climberstands, blinds, and tons of magical potions, feed, gadgets, cameras, calls, decoys, etc. the modern day hunter is so enamored with. And of course population growth with the resulting commercial and residential development is pushing this circus into a smaller and smaller area.

The current deer population is impeding forest growth and I cannot see artifically boosting it just for shooting them. Eventually CWD or some other factor may also drive the hunting numbers down. CWD does not kill the deer so with natural predators not a significant factor and long cold winters a thing of the past hunting and automobiles are the major check in deer numbers. If you didn't get a deer during the hunt just try driving more and faster after dark.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2006 8:59 pm 
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I don't know where my daughter hunts, somewhere off Hwy 8, but she saw deer. Got an 8 point buck and a doe. I saw lots of deer while driving over there, from Chippewa Falls to Tomahawk, not counting the 15 road killed deer.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2006 11:42 pm 
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We read, with interest, your column in the Leader this week and agree wholeheartedly with your opinions as to what’s going on with our dwindling deer herd.

We also have land in Brantwood on D North. We had 14 hunters. Some hunted the whole season, some only hunted the weekends. We had one guy who got a nice buck and one young first year hunter who shot a spike. This was the worst season ever.

Since hunting season has been over I’ve taken some rides in the truck to see if the deer are somewhere else or if they’re just not around. I’ve seen none!

If we were hunting bears or turkeys the meat pole would have been full. What could the reason be for the DNR not giving out more bear tags. There are so many.

If there only were some way we could band all the hunters together and boycott hunting deer, thereby bringing the herd back to where it should be ourselves, that would be a huge kick in the rear for the DNR. And they’ve got it coming.

Good luck in your endeavors to get the message out.

Gregg and Sandy Myre


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2006 11:44 pm 
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Larry, I am responding to your request for experiences of deer hunting. For the many years my family of grandsons and sons have hunted what is known as the Iron Gate area of County Y in Oneida County. We know the area well and have often taken nice bucks and big does from the area. However, the past couple years we have seen few deer but we have seen our share of wolves or their deer kill. One older grandson was treed for some time by a pack of wolves. A son of mine has seen wolves from his tree stand on a couple occasions. We have come across deer killed with signs of wolves being there. A wonderful wild area put aside by the state we now see very few wild game and above all few deer. Moving back to our old haunts where we were equally successful over the years only one kill was made by five hunters over the season. That was a moderate size doe.

Darrell Smerz


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 05, 2007 3:55 am 
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Larry, it sounds to me like maybe you should just start hunting at a "deer farm" where you're guaranteed to get whatever size deer you'd like.. depending on how much money you'd like to spend.

After all, what's the "sport" in hunting if you don't get exactly what you want every season?

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 05, 2007 8:15 am 
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Abnerman,

I think you'll find that Larry (my dad) doesn't have a problem with not getting the deer he "wants" every time. The problem is simply there aren't ANY deer left. No tracks, no sign, no deer.

As little as 3-4 years ago I would invite friends to our land. The conversation usually went something like, "I can't promise you'll see anything big or that you'll want to shoot at but I will guarantee you'll at least see a few deer at some point so you have something to watch." Both friends who came saw small deer and never got a thing, they had a blast.

This year when they talked of coming back I warned them before they came. "It's not like it used to be, there's a good chance you wont see anything other than a couple of squirrels or maybe some turkeys". They came back as much to hang out as anything else but they also didn't come as often, etc.

Even if there were tracks around it would help but at least in our area the deer herd has been destroyed.


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