Jarrad Fluekiger is relieved that a proposal for an antlerless-only deer hunting season in Buffalo County in November has been shot down by the state Department of Natural Resources.
Fluekiger, who owns Rutting Ridge Outfitters in Alma, said the proposal would have severely damaged tourism, as people come from all over to hunt trophy bucks in the county.
“I’m excited, but it’s not done yet. They (DNR officials) decided for the best interests of the county. It could have been a lot of revenue that would have been lost,” Fluekiger said.
The Buffalo County Deer Advisory Council had recommended the antlerless-only hunt in April.
Mark Noll, chairman of the Buffalo CDAC, said he had doubts the plan would pass on a state level.
“We voted more to give a message than anything else,” Noll said. “This is a complex problem. Not one person on our committee thought it would work, but we voted for it to send a message.”
Noll said counties need more tools for managing herd sizes. Since the CDAC proposed the antlerless only season, he’s heard several people suggest the state should bring back an earn-a-buck system, as that would be preferable to an antlerless-only season. Noll said they should look at some other creative ideas; he noted that an area in Kansas has a quota season, where bucks cannot be taken until a certain number of does are shot first.
“We’re not bringing the deer totals down at all,” Noll said. “They aren’t spread out evenly (across the county.)”
Noll said he would like to see the deer numbers come down in an effort to reduce the possibility of chronic wasting disease affecting the area herd.
“Once CWD gets in here, the bucks won’t get old anymore,” Noll said. “We’re just sounding the alarm in Buffalo County.”
Fluekiger said Buffalo County is nationally known for its large trophy bucks. He attributes some of that to the natural minerals in the ground that help the animals grow, as well as the fact that most of the hunting areas in the county are on private property. The county also has a lot of natural bluffs, where “the winds are always rolling and circulating. The bucks have used that to their advantage to get around the landscape.”
Dan Rolbiecki, a taxidermist at Ridge Top Taxidermy in Fountain City, was confident the antlerless season wouldn’t pass.
“These guys were using it as a scare tactic,” Rolbiecki said.
Rolbiecki said the antlerless-only season wasn’t needed.
“Our buck numbers are down, our car-kills are down, and they say we are running over with deer,” Rolbiecki said. “It’s a relief we aren’t going to have an antlerless hunt, but it doesn’t solve all our problems.”
The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board will vote on the DNR’s hunting season recommendations May 22. Greg Kazmierski, the board’s vice chairman, said he was pleased the DNR isn’t bringing the antlerless season forward.
“I think it was the right call. The metrics in that county doesn’t support taking that type of drastic action,” Kazmierski said. “Population levels have been staying stable, or even going down. They don’t have a great number of deer per square mile. Deer are managed to social levels. If farmers are experiencing too much damage, or there were too many road kills, but those social pressures weren’t there.”
Kazmierski disagrees with Noll, saying the local CDACs still have other options for controlling deer herd sizes.
“There are more tools with the deer management plan than there ever was,” Kazmierski said.