I am curious who all hunts private land and who all hunts public land? How many acres do you hunt on? Do you do hunt both, stay on private land, or stay on public land, or possibly a combination of the both when your property backs up to public land?
Public Land Vs Private Land
congrats to all that had a chance to harvest a deer with the smoke stick, and bow after the gun deer season, We are still below last years harvest but it looks like we are going to surpass last years numbers. Enjoy the area that you are able to hunt. And remember this us public land hunters in the southern part of the state appreciate the fact that private landowners flip the bill for the deer we see on public. Property taxes suck, and we appreciate the fact that you feed them in the winter.
The pieces of public that I hunt did get hit a little harder this year than the past. Darn Flu. The deer numbers on the private look decent. Seeing a few deer that will hopefully make a visit past the stand next year. In the southern part of the state my family had the option to potential harvest 8 does and can still buy public tags at 3 per day. (did not fill a one) This is the problem with hunting public there is really no limit on the number of does that can be harvested. It is better than it use to be but still has the potential of "wiped out". Yes deer will filter in but after a few years these deer have to travel through a lot of land that is far better to live in. Plus they are not having someone, or some dog run through there bedroom every other day.
For the up north area of the state good luck with the big and small dogs. They do cause the deer to move into a larger home range to avoid getting harassed. I have seen it personally. The dog tracks were trotting from one stand site to the next until they found something to chase. Followed the chase tracks for over a mile as far as I wanted to go. You northwoods big woods hunters are a hardy bunch, hang in there and your trophy of a lifetime will go by. Still hoping to get one of those heavy antlered bruisers. Hunting the edge of forest and farm country in "northern" WI. The private lands definatly have more deer do to the fact that more desirable food is present and less pressure. Less grouse hunting.
Good luck to all that are still going to hunt the rest of the year. I am tagged out. 2 public land bucks and 18 some geese the freezer is full. The 5 public doe tags I have (multiple counties increase the odds) are getting used to start the grill.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Years
Wow, you guys have some time invested in the numbers/statistics that support my lack of understanding in the “doom and gloom” of Wisconsin deer hunting. More power to you.
Rather than being an arm chair biologist, I’d rather invest that time in hunting or scouting. Any system created by imperfect humans will be flawed. Deer management is no different. Are we missing the mark by a country mile? I don’t think so, but that’s just me. I enjoy hunting and being successful. Attitude and optimism have a lot to do with it.
Carry on gents!
"I went straight to the horses mouth on this one and found the summary report for the 2019 study:
@JC- it was estimated at approximately 1.19 - 1.45 million in 2019, but was 1.37-1.67 million in 2018."
Those are post hunt estimates. Prehunt was close to 2,000,000. I am using prehunt numbers. I don't have a posthunt estimate from 1985, but it would probably be around 650,000. Assuming post-hunt estimates of 650,000, that would be less than half the deer post hunt in 1985 compared to 2019. Again, since 1985, with all the extra seasons, more weapons, bonus tags, longer seasons, 14 extra days of gun seasons, wolf-bear-bobcat populations exploding, how is this logical?
"We can agree to disagree on the statistical inputs. In the 80's, they were using calculators and whiteboards to develop and individually calculate complex statistical models based on harvest data and surveys received in the mail. Now, harvest information is reported instantaneously and real time reporting with a computer constantly running a statistical model and dynamically adapting that model to data inputs. The model may still use the same basic mathematical concept, but that's not to say the methodology and quality of inputs hasn't changed."
You can find the SAK model on the internet and find the inputs. Not a lot of input data really at all, and can't be run without final harvest numbers. It is really just calculated off of harvest registration, deer age (why DNR does aging at certain areas) and some assumptions. In the early 80s they weren't using complex models and primarily used rifle kill numbers from year to year I believe, even though the "complex SAK model" was developed in the 1950s. I highly doubt they are constantly running statistical models during the deer season as it does no good without final harvest numbers and age assessments, and the deer season/tags are already set for the year. Numbers are crunched the same as every year. The only adjustments to the model may be variances due to something like updated data on the assumptions of buck recovery rate (BRR) and only slightly due to recent mortality studies. I am not sure if that has been adjusted or not from the results....perhaps.
"There still are too many does where I hunt. Plenty of bucks too, but definitely too many does"
But then you shoot 5 bucks and only 2 does. There in lies the problem. Many people complain about the dnr management, but where they can micromanage it themselves, they don't do any better.
"When you say "stop issuing doe tags" I hope you are referring to only certain deer management areas. "
Yes, of course. I was referring to the northwoods, anywhere really north of Hwy29/64. You could probably throw public land anywhere south of this line into the group also.
I've read all what everyone had posted so far, never a dull read and makes me feel why I love the woods so much... When I was a boy, I went with my Grandpa into the woods, I paid attention because I found my way we had went and spent time by myself... I could barely remember so I paid special attention as I explored on my own... I thought a few times I may get lost, but I didn't panic and found my way out... I realized why it was difficult to find, because the area around the woods changed again a bit more than before... Fishing up north I see deer all the time, singles, but ONE time going fishing at night, I drove by a field I never noticed ANY deer before was loaded with deer...
Dozens and dozens of deer... I kept going and wished I had stopped for a look... I looked every time since and nothing... The first two times I even shined the field with a light and nada!
Most I ever saw was seven does that stumbled on me as my pet squirrel had alerted me to them prompting me to stay still as he was... Magical...
We have a great nation & outdoors...
I went straight to the horses mouth on this one and found the summary report for the 2019 study:
@JC- it was estimated at approximately 1.19 - 1.45 million in 2019, but was 1.37-1.67 million in 2018... Really not that much of a change all things considered.
We can agree to disagree on the statistical inputs. In the 80's, they were using calculators and whiteboards to develop and individually calculate complex statistical models based on harvest data and surveys received in the mail. Now, harvest information is reported instantaneously and real time reporting with a computer constantly running a statistical model and dynamically adapting that model to data inputs. The model may still use the same basic mathematical concept, but that's not to say the methodology and quality of inputs hasn't changed.
Agriculture, another area we can agree to disagree. Deer didn't get this far by dying without a cornfield in the winter. The health and viability of a herd is improved when there is greater access to year round food sources, not just in the winter. 3 may die from starvation or poor adaptation out of a group of 30, but that group of 30 would only be 15 were it not for readily available agricultural browse. Out those 15, none would die of starvation in the winter because their already fitted to their ecological sector... so you're right.
I hunt primarily southern and south-central Wisconsin, along with Northeastern Wisconsin, where there is still a lot of viable agriculture, so you're discussion on the northern states, I'm not going to contest. The Northwestern part of the state is a unique habitat compared to the rest of Wisconsin. I can't speak much from experience because I've never hunted the forests. Marinette, Forest, and Oconto counties of the great northeast this year shut down anything antlerless to prepare herds for the coming predation. The public land tract I have been hunting on opening gun weekend for nearly 15 years was full of wolves this year, so the spread is apparent. The deer were still there though, but the wolves had them so skittish that they disappeared into the thickest of the thick at the first sign of human activity. Ironically, the grouse were packed to the walls though... what gives?
I still hold a firm belief that whitetail deer win with moderate amounts of deforestation and agricultural, and even (to an extent) light residential development... not only win, but thrive, which is your rationale for the tag issuance for a good majority of the state. A family of people are much better co-habitatnts than a pack of wolves. period.
When you say "stop issuing doe tags" I hope you are referring to only certain deer management areas. There still are too many does where I hunt. Plenty of bucks too, but definitely too many does, so taking a few away each year doesn't hurt much. Where I hunted this year (private, monroe county central farmland) the landowner said we could harvest one doe and one buck each. We ended up between bow and gun season harvesting 5 bucks and 2 does. I think that's a pretty good ratio for a total of 120 acres.
Public land I hunt one of the urban management zones. I get one regular doe tag and an urban doe tag for that county. I've yet to harvest one on that public land but I know they're in there.
Couple of things, bears do eat fawns. There were studies in the NE part of the US that they consume up to 30% of fawns annually (might have been in PA?). The small studies in WI don't support that high of a number however. Bears do eat a statistically significant amount of fawns.
There are just a couple reasons for lack of deer in the northwoods.
1) Too many doe tags. Some counties have correctly not issued antlerless tags as winter is always in play north of Hwy 29 to some degree, but when you have counties (CDACs) such as Bayfield, Douglas, Lincoln, Vilas, etc. issuing so many antlerless tags that the NRB has to make an emergency order to cut the tag recommendations by 50% that is a major problem. Again, stop shooting the does. We go from no bonus tags to enormous numbers within 20 years timeframe - and people wonder where all the deer went? What changed?
2) Predation. Wolves are a major problem obviously, and well above the 350 population goal the DNR set years ago. In 1985 the wolf population was estimated at about 14 wolves, and now is over 1,000. If you believe there are only 1,000 wolves in WI then....I don't know what to say. DNR even calls the population count a "minimum count." If you account for a single wolf conservatively consuming 20+ deer annually, that is a significant amount of deer in the limited range wolves occupy. Bobcat population is estimated at almost 4,000, in 1985 it was around 1,600. Bears - population estimate in 2020 was over 24,000. In 1985 it was around 6,000. Fewer people coyote hunt as they did years ago because of fur prices, losing access to land to run dogs, people quitting because their hunting dogs get killed by wolves, etc.
Again, how can the "biologists" explain how there are so many deer as compared to 1985? In 1985 it was estimated there were 1,000,000 deer in the state. In 2019, I believe it was estimated at almost 2,000,000.
Yama, there is a lot of clear cutting done in the national forest the last couple years but you would be hard pressed to find a deer track in one. There is so few deer that they don't need that extra food. There's only 1 reason for the low bear pop. in the NF, hunting pressure. I should add (central NF).
I've said it many times before....90% of the hunters are after 10% of the game on public and 10% of the hunters after 90% of the game on private.