Forest County Deer Hunting
I've been hunting northern Forest County near Alvin for 43 years. In that time my success rate is just under 50%. All bucks. Some nice but nothing huge. I spend a lot of time hiking, scouting, and trying to pinpoint the locations of the pockets of deer that ARE THERE. In recent years, in the 4 or 5 square miles that I consider my stomping grounds, there is NO PLACE that doesn't look like this. Highland hardwoods, swamps, oak ridges, old slashings, creek bottoms, everywhere there is favorable browse, it is mowed down by early fall. Just one non biologist opinion but from what I observe, the current habitat cannot support the type of deer numbers needed to make the average box sitter happy. My family logged in the area from the late 70s through 2004 when my Dad retired. I'm curious to know what a browse line on cedars does to benifit deer in winter. The deer can only reach so high, hence the line. I don't believe the cedar boughs regenerate much below the line.
Starting in the late 70s, spruce bud worm had begun to ravage the sprawling spruce and balsam stands across this whole area. At the time USFS had free reign to take action and instituted huge timber sales to salvage the timber and pulp wood before the bugs rendered it all useless. Salvage operations probably carried through the mid 90s. Yes, the resulting clear cuts were great habitat for upland game and deer but they don't provide much in the winter. What really sustained the high deer population through that time period was the ACTIVE OVER WINTER LOGGING. Nobody seems to recall the DNR warning hunters not to get used to the numbers we were seeing back in the hey day as they knew that for various reasons, the logging would be coming to a halt.
On the bright side, they have squashed back the tree huggers and SOME logging is occurring albeit very restricted and low profits for the loggers. Spruce bud worm is also back. Most big spruce in my area is allready dead. Many balsam are looking pretty sick. Whatever doesn't get logged will soon end up on the forest floor, which over time, will also serve to improve habitat. Baiting is gone. Deer sightings were up and we had a couple kills in our camps this season. Put on a lot of miles the last 4 days of season making drives, and I always spend the last day of season walking/scouting. Tons of deer tracks. I honestly saw nothing that i would consider wolf tracks and very few coyote tracks. That's not to say they won't move in but I get around the forest quite a bit through out the year, trout fishing, bird hunting, and scouting and I'm just not seeing the big bad wolf.
Bottom line, call me a DNR lover if you will. I don't believe all this hogwash about eradication. There was a time during the "hey day" when there was probably a need to thin the herd but many hunters, myself included, didn't believe in harvesting does so we would obtain tags just to "save a doe". I've always speculated that in subsequent years, the dnr tried to compensate for this by doling out more tags. Today's generation of hunter seems to believe that since they have a tag, they NEED to fill it and it becomes a "brown is down" situation. Does tending fawns, nub bucks all fair game and THAT is what causes decimation. If more hunters would practice selectivity, I believe some antler less harvest is benificial, even from a sparse herd. Ive always found it interesting that its taboo and unlawful to kill a sow black bear tending cubs but most hunters have no qualms about tipping over a doe accompanied by a fawn or two.
The DNR manages the herd with the herd's healthiness in mind, as I believe it should be, and not for hunters satisfaction for 9 OR TWO, days out of the year. I would just as soon ere on the side of caution with deer numbers, have fewer deer and a chance to come through a winter, than to pad the herd to keep the box sitters happy and have ANY end up dying of slow suffering starvation and end up rotting on the forest floor.
I realize that's not realistic and some will always die but to sacrifice any deer just to enhance my play time, just doesn't seem right to me.
As I said, with buck only, numbers seem to be up, it's not great, it's better, but without better over winter substinance, we are one bad winter away from being right back to dismal.
Interesting, I'm wondering where in this roughly 30 sq. mi. they are concerned about over browsing. Google earth makes it look like all mature northern hardwoods for the most part. Very little regeneration occurs until a cutting is done to allow more sunlight. Any DNR forester should verify that.
This should help Swamper
Here's 2 for Florence county from 2014 and 2015.
Looks very specific almost like ag tags. Would reduce the area by about 8 does per sq. mi. if all tags are filled. 1 doe per 80.
yamatroller, I still don't agree on the over browsing in Forest County. The cedar swamps have had browse lines for as long as I can remember(early 60's). I talked to my Dad last night and he said it's been like that since he was a kid, he grew up in Forest County logging with horses and crosscuts in the late 40's into the 50's. His family before him were loggers and Forest Service workers and my father spent many hours with his uncle in fire towers(Mostly Carter). The maple regeneration you are talking about is still heavy in some areas( not all). I have a deer stand that I shot 5 or 6 bucks from in the last 10 or so years that is almost un-huntable because it is so thick with young maple. The last time it was logged was 96. I would not call any area I have come across as over browsed, under logged would be a more accurate term IMO. I would agree there are large areas of open hardwoods wastelands that need some logging to help out the wildlife. The good news is it looks like they are moving forward with logging in the National forest now after a lengthy hang up, the State and Federal boys are working together. There are 4 different large areas clear-cuts that I have noticed in the last year in the Wabeno/Blackwell area alone, and also some selective cutting being done in other areas as well.
Our group has been camping in Forest County for deer hunting for many years and we have a blast, it would be a little more fun if the deer were a little more plentiful. I believe things are looking up, and I hope for a mild winter - no doe tags - less wolves - and Joe Two-Feather to eat a few more hot dogs and not so much venny..........
The deer pic is an old one, the other is one of our hunters pulling his "ratty camper" from deer camp.
Sorry about the long post, I'm bored, time to get the ice fishing stuff ready I guess...........
Still waiting for a link to the Wabikon Easement Doe tag story?
Farnorth, please, to preserve my sanity as well as that of half the members of Lake-Link, provide one piece of verifiable, documentable evidence that the "atrocities" you claim are ocurring in the northwoods on timber co. land is actually happening. C'mon, please just one good traceable piece of evidence. Otherwise, spend more time raking leaves in the yard and less time posting on LL !
What's been done in Florence County for five years is getting moved to Forest County and the rest of the Northwoods. I don't have a problem with issuing some antlerless tags if a landowner has a huge problem with deer causing damage on a specific property. What I have a huge problem with is when I see the WDNR using this issue as an end around on CDAC buck only votes in specific counties. They have harvested hundreds of " Nuisance " antlerless deer in Florence County the last few years. All of this done while the deer population had plummeted to near 50 year lows. I don't think I'd have that big of a problem with it if they were to be used in reg deer seasons also. Gun during gun and bow with bow. I have a huge problem when the timber company jobbers slaughter does off of timber jobs in Dec/Jan. I have a huge problem when the regular hunters don't get antlerless yet timber corporations do! Our antis in our WDNR know that doing that will not only eliminate the deer on this specific property , but also significantly lower the entire deer population in the entire region. In a no bait , no youth antlerless county that's utter BS. Kids can't shoot a doe for the good of the herd........ but slaughter does off of timber sales when winter sets in. Only in Wisconsin. Only in our WDNR could something like this happen.