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2007 Deer Season Forecast

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SPOONER, Wis. - Mild winters and an increasing deer population have contributed to an increased number of Northern Region deer management units being classified as Herd Control units in 2007.

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A number of these units are also on a "watch list" for possible Earn-A-Buck rules in 2008.

Mike Zeckmeister, wildlife supervisor for the Department of Natural Resources 18-County Northern Region said hunters need to shoot more antlerless deer this deer gun season to avoid the Earn-A-Buck status and to maintain a healthy deer herd.

Of the 45 DMUs in the region, 32 are subject to herd control regulations this year and two are subject to Earn-A-Buck regulations. Last year, 28 units were in Herd Control and two units were on the EAB Watch List qualifying them for that status this deer season.

For the 2007 season, the north has 25 units on the Watch List.

"Harvesting at least one antlerless deer from a Watch Unit this year guarantees you'll get a 2008 buck sticker in the summer mail if the unit does go into Earn-A-Buck," said Zeckmeister. "Better yet, if all hunters and hunting camps do their very best to harvest at least two antlerless deer for every hunter, it will go a long way toward managing deer populations and possibly avoiding Earn-A-Buck rules in future seasons.

Two years of successive mild winters helped increase an expanding deer population, the wildlife supervisor said. Last winter wildlife biologists measured a Winter Severity Index of 32 compared to 36 the winter before. The 30 year average index is 56. Anything less than a 50 WSI is considered mild resulting in very little weather-related deer mortality.

"So again," Zeckmeister explained, winter mortality was low and recruitment of fawns and yearling deer is expected to be above average in 2007. In most units we need a heavy harvest of antlerless deer to help keep a healthy deer herd, sustain good habitat, and, maintain a high regard to Wisconsin's truly magnificent big game animal."

Along with the mild winters another reason many units were designated for herd control, he added, was the absence of an October antlerless-only gun season. These two factors resulted in growing deer populations.

"Because Earn-A-Buck is not popular with most hunters, we hope we can get an extremely high antlerless harvest this year and combined with next year's return of the early October Gun Season (formally known as the Early T-Zone) we can reduce the need for EAB in Northern Wisconsin for 2008", Zeckmeister said.

In Herd Control Units there will be unlimited $2 permits for anyone interested in shooting antlerless deer. In the two EAB units, hunters who did not prequalify must shoot an antlerless deer before shooting a legal buck. In the remaining units of the Northern Region, deer populations are at or slightly below goals.

A complete explanation of tagging requirements and permit availability can be found in the Deer Hunting Regulations pamphlet, visiting DNR Customer Service Centers or going to the DNR Web site.

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