June 9, 2023

Some of Wisconsin Outdoorsmen Seem Willing to Compromise – Snowmobilers Not One of Them

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In Wisconsin, the Department of Natural Resources is proposing some changes to the deer hunting seasons in an effort to better manage the state’s deer herd and at the same time create better hunting opportunities for license holders.

At issue here are bow hunters, bear hunters, youth hunters, the extended antlerless deer hunt to control herd growth and snowmobilers. Bow hunters enjoy a season that begins in mid September and runs to early January. Bear hunters don’t want to have the two-day youth deer hunt the weekend right after bow hunting opens because it will interfere with their hunt. The extended antlerless deer hunt has taken place in October in herd control zones and again bow hunters argue it messes up their hunt. The DNR has proposed moving the extended hunt to early December but snowmobilers say they can’t do necessary trail maintenance and grooming for early season snowmobiling.

What a dilemma. The new proposals were sent to the Legislative Committees for approval but found the new changes were rejected by those committees. They sent the proposals back to the Natural Resources Board telling them that all rule changes were not going to take effect unless these issues get resolved. If the proposals are not approved, next season’s hunts will be the same as this year’s.

The Resources Board is planning two changes to the proposals. One is to have the Youth Day Hunt on Saturday and Sunday nearest October 8th. The second is a compromise issue allowing an extended antlerless deer hunt in the northern counties only those south of U.S. Route 8. Only zones designated as “T-zones” would be open to hunting north of U.S. Route 8. This extended season would begin the second Thursday after Thanksgiving.

The hunters grumbled and moaned and didn’t really care for the changes that much but they did seem willing to accept them. On the other hand the snowmobilers seem bent on having everything their way and refuse to accept any compromise.

The Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs has a very strong lobby presence in the Capital and has been opposed to any hunt in the northern part of the state after December 1st. The extended hunt is for only 4 days.

This lack of compromise on their part seems overwhelming selfish and pig headed. Everyone fully understands the impact that not being able to have an early snowmobile season would have on the local economy but let’s be realistic, hunting has as great an economic impact.

First of all, I see absolutely no legitimate reason why the two can’t co-exist. Working on trails and grooming, if there is snow, I would think would have a much bigger impact on the ability to manage the deer herd and affect the hunter’s ability to tag a deer. Secondly, it’s four days. The odds are pretty good that there will usually be insufficient snows to make riding ideal. This is not like they are being asked to give up prime weekends for riding.

It appears that the DNR needs to make the changes they feel are necessary in the best interest of the deer management plans. No change or even keeping the present seasons is going to make everyone happy and there will always be complainers. If the present system is not achieving the results they want for deer herd management, then changes do need to take place. All parties involved need to be prepared to make concessions, grow up and deal with it.

At this point in time, it appears to me that the Association of Snowmobile Clubs is throwing their weight around and refusing to compromise and making enough noise in Madison to get the lawmakers quaking in their snowmobile suits.

Tom Remington