4 lucky Wisconsin residents to participate in first elk hunt

MADISON – Following a 30-day application period and a great deal of anticipation, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff conducted the random drawing for four lucky residents who will participate in the first managed elk hunting season in state history.
“This is an historic time for the department and I would like to sincerely thank all those who applied for an elk license,” said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR deer and elk ecologist. “It was a privilege to call all the winners and personally congratulate them. Each one recognizes that this will be a unique and exciting experience.”
Over 38,000 Wisconsin residents entered the drawing for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Four hunters were selected to receive a license for Wisconsin’s inaugural elk hunt.
In addition to license fees, over $13,000 was contributed through donations to benefit elk management in Wisconsin.
An additional license will be awarded through a raffle conducted by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. The raffle winner will be drawn Aug. 11, and tickets can be purchased at http://www.rmef.org/Events/RafflesSweepstakes/WisconsinElkHuntRaffle.aspx. All Wisconsin residents may enter the raffle, including hunters that applied in the state drawing. Raffle tickets may be purchased for $10 each - the same cost as the state application fee.
Proceeds from elk license applications and the RMEF drawing are earmarked for elk management in Wisconsin.
“Offering this hunt has taken Wisconsin’s elk management program to a whole new level,” said Wallenfang. “There has been high interest and excitement since we announced the hunt, and it has brought a level of awareness to a lot of people who didn’t even know that we have elk in our state. It’s an important opportunity to inform and build advocacy for our elk reintroduction effort, while providing a limited, but exciting, recreational opportunity. We anticipate more tags in the future as the herds grow.”
The 2018 hunting season is scheduled only in the Clam Lake elk range in parts of Sawyer, Bayfield, Ashland and Price counties in far north-central Wisconsin where the original restoration effort was initiated with 25 elk from Michigan in 1995. The herd is projected to comfortably surpass 200 animals this year.
Prior to purchasing an elk hunting license, all winners will be required to attend a Wisconsin elk hunter orientation offered prior to the hunt. The class will cover a hunting area overview, field sampling and health testing, regulations and more.
“The hunt will occur after the rut and the area is dense forest with openings, so it won’t be easy,” said Wallenfang. “But we estimate about 70 adult bulls in the Clam Lake herd, so it will be a hunt to remember for those lucky winners.”
For more information regarding elk in Wisconsin, go to dnr.wi.gov and search keyword “elk.” To receive email updates regarding current translocation efforts, visit dnr.wi.gov and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page titled "subscribe for updates for DNR topics," then follow the prompts and select the "elk in Wisconsin" and "wildlife projects" distribution lists.
SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Natural Resources Board approves deer harvest quotas, season structure

MADISON, WI - The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board approved the 2018 antlerless deer quotas, harvest authorization levels and deer hunting season framework at its May 23, meeting in Madison.
The 2018 deer season framework represents the efforts of the County Deer Advisory Councils to move the deer herd in each county toward a three-year population objective of increasing, maintaining or decreasing the herd. This is the councils' fourth year developing deer management recommendations that consider both scientific herd metrics and public feedback. This year, the public submitted over 7,000 comment forms online during the April 2-12, public comment period in addition to input provided directly at council meetings.
"Department staff would like to thank the CDACs for their continued involvement and commitment to playing an important role in deer management. That said, the main influencer on quota levels, particularly in the north, were late April storms," said Kevin Wallenfang, Department of Natural Resources deer and elk ecologist. "We've seen an increase in population estimates and harvest figures for the past few years, which we expected to continue this year. However, all of the northern counties reduced antlerless quotas to take into account the impacts of the late winter."
Wallenfang says that in the farmland regions of the state, councils continue to use a variety of tagging and season options to address higher deer number. Hunters will again have the opportunity to harvest multiple deer and enjoy extended hunting opportunities.
Iron County is the only deer management unit that will be restricted to buck harvest only in 2018. The antlerless quota for the rest of Wisconsin will be 233,690 antlerless deer (compared to 276,515 in 2017).
A total of 44,000 public-access land bonus antlerless deer harvest authorizations (formerly known as deer tags) will be offered for public-access lands (compared to 31,945 in 2017), while 181,200 will be offered for private lands (compared to 168,210 in 2017). Bonus antlerless harvest authorization sales will occur as follows (sales begin each day at 10 a.m.):
* Monday, Aug. 13 - Northern and Central Forest zones.
* Tuesday, Aug. 14 - Central Farmland Zone.
* Wednesday, Aug. 15 - Southern Farmland Zone.
* Thursday, Aug. 16 - All remaining bonus harvest authorizations can be purchased until sold out or the season ends.
In addition, Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless harvest authorizations are available through gowild.wi.gov for both public and private land with the purchase of every deer hunting license. The number of authorizations offered will depend on the county deer management unit, which must be selected at the time of issuance.
A Holiday Hunt will be held within 19 counties, offering an additional antlerless-only opportunity for firearm hunters from Dec. 24, to Jan. 1, 2019. As a reminder, archery and crossbow hunters in these counties are also restricted to antlerless harvest during the time of this hunt.
New in 2018, 12 counties holding a Holiday Hunt have extended the archery and crossbow season to Jan. 31, 2019. The extended archery and crossbow season will be open to both buck and antlerless deer harvest.
To help hunters prepare for the 2018 deer season, multiple resources will be posted on the department's deer hunting web page. Hunters are encouraged to check this page frequently leading up to the season. The following documents are available at dnr.wi.gov, keyword "deer".

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR invites public to serve on council to help boost hunter, angler numbers

Efforts to increase the number of hunters and anglers in Minnesota will gain new focus with advice from a 15-member council that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is establishing to zero in on hunter and angler recruitment, retention and reactivation.
“Getting more people out in the water, in woods and fields is a significant challenge and worthwhile goal for all Minnesotans,” said James Burnham, DNR hunter and angler recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) coordinator. “The outcome may decide the success of conservation efforts valued by Minnesotans whether or not they hunt and fish. But we need the public’s help and guidance to move the needle.”
Citizens can nominate themselves through Friday, June 22, to serve on the 10 open seats of the council, for two-year terms, with meetings scheduled every three months.
The council will work with and advise the DNR on R3 efforts, programs and potential partnerships that will benefit the recruitment of new hunters and anglers, the retention of current outdoor enthusiasts, and the reactivation of individuals who have not been active recently in hunting or fishing.  
This council will build on previous work from an R3 summit convened by the DNR in 2016 with a variety of interested groups. Out of the summit came a recommendation for creating a council made up of Minnesota residents to help shape R3 efforts across the state.  
The DNR has invited groups to nominate members to help lead the council, including the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, National Wild Turkey Federation, Women Hunting and Fishing in all Seasons, Trout Unlimited and Pheasants Forever.  
“We welcome anybody to apply who’s interested in helping reverse a projected national decline in hunting and fishing and the corresponding shortfall that will follow in how we manage natural resources,” Burnham said.
Applications and more information on R3 in Minnesota can be found at mndnr.gov/R3.
Any questions about this process, or the role of the R3 council, can be directed to James Burnham at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 651-259-5191.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

2018 Minnesota Governor's Pheasant Hunting Opener set

Planning is underway for the eighth annual Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener schedule Oct. 12-13.
This year’s event will be held in Luverne, located in the southwest corner of the state. It is the first time Luverne has hosted the event.
“I thank the people of Luverne for graciously offering to host the 2018 Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener,” said Gov. Mark Dayton. “The Pheasant Opener has become a special Minnesota tradition, made possible by our tremendous host communities. I look forward to another fantastic opener in Luverne this year.”
Luverne was selected through an application process that considered hunting land in the area, event facilities and community support. The greater Rock County area has a rich outdoors heritage that includes Blue Mounds State Park and Touch the Sky Prairie.
“We’re very excited to host the Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Opener,” said Rick Peterson, chairman of the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener committee in Luverne. “This will be a great way to showcase the many hunting and unique tourism opportunities available in Rock County.”
In addition to pheasant hunting, the weekend event includes a public dedication of Rooster Ridge Wildlife Management Area west of Luverne, and a Governor's Pheasant Hunting Opener Community Banquet. Information and updates will be available at www.exploreminnesota.com/MNGPHO.
The Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener was initiated by Gov. Dayton in 2011. The event highlights the local hunting, recreational, and tourism opportunities host communities have to offer visitors.
Explore Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are assisting local partners in planning the event.
Follow along for social media updates using the hashtags #MNGPHO2018 and #OnlyinMN.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

New fisher, otter management zones in effect for trapping season

MADISON, WI - Wisconsin trappers will observe a change to the number and configuration of fisher and river otter management zones for the 2018-19 season.
New, simplified zones are now identical for fisher, otter and bobcat.
Previously, Wisconsin was divided into six fisher zones and three otter zones. The number of fisher zones made population data collection and analysis challenging, and two of the six zones were without management goals or population models. For otter, the central and southern zone seasons and permit levels were similar enough for the zones to be merged into one, while the northern zone remains unchanged.
For both fisher and otter, the previous management zones have now been consolidated into a northern and southern zone divided by Highway 64. The two-zone framework will improve population models in each zone and provide a consistent zone boundary.
The new zones are not anticipated to impact the number of fisher and otter permits available to the public, nor the wait time required to receive a permit. Rather, the two-zone framework will allow trappers the flexibility to trap these species across a larger area than under the previous framework, which restricted trappers to smaller zones. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' Furbearer Advisory Committee will determine quotas and permit levels for each new fisher and otter management zone at the end of May.
When applying for a fisher or otter permit, trappers will now select either the northern or southern zone. Permit applications are due on Aug. 1 each year, and may be submitted through gowild.wi.gov.
For more information on trapping, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "trap."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Preliminary 2017 bobcat harvest information available

MADISON, WI - Hunters and trappers harvested 548 bobcats in Wisconsin, according to preliminary harvest data for the 2017-18 bobcat seasons.
Preliminary data combines both state and tribal harvest information, and final harvest information should be available by mid-June. With the addition of the southern management zone, 2017 marks the fourth year of statewide bobcat harvest.
Bobcat harvest is divided by northern and southern management zones. In 2017, the harvest goal for the northern zone was 550 and the harvest goal for the southern zone was 200 for a total harvest goal of 750 bobcats statewide. Both zones saw harvest goal increases for the 2017 season, with a substantial increase in the northern zone.
"Harvest goals and permit levels for each management zone are evaluated annually based on review of bobcat population data," said Shawn Rossler, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources furbearer ecologist. "Bobcats are managed through a preference point lottery system that allows harvest by trappers and hunters with a permit."
The Furbearer Advisory Committee, which includes DNR Staff, tribal and partner agency representatives and individuals from key user groups, provides annual harvest goal recommendations to the DNR.
The DNR's bobcat population estimate research is led by Nathan Roberts, DNR furbearer research scientist.
"We are learning a lot about this elusive animal through active research efforts. Monitoring bobcats via satellite collars allows us to evaluate harvest mortality rates," said Roberts. "Over the last four years, 90 bobcats have been collared and monitored."
Rossler said the information from this research will allow the department to maximize bobcat harvest opportunities while ensuring the long-term stability of the bobcat population.
The annual application deadline for the bobcat harvest permit drawing is Aug. 1. Wisconsin's bobcat hunting and trapping seasons are divided into early (mid-October to Dec. 25) and late (Dec. 26 to Jan. 31) time periods.
For more information regarding bobcat hunting and research in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "furbearers."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Plum City's Hanson wins Wisconsin's Ethical Hunter Award

BARNEVELD, WI - Cody Hanson, from Plum City, WI, was awarded the 2017 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Ethical Hunter Award by Chief Warden Todd Schaller of the DNR and Nick Laufenberg, of Vortex Optics, in Barneveld recently.
The award was presented May 17, at the new Vortex Optics Headquarters in Barneveld, WI. Vortex Optics, a worldwide company, has been a corporate sponsor of the award the past two years, gifting the ethical hunter an item from its line of rifle scopes, binoculars and range finders manufactured in Barneveld.
Hanson was hunting with Payton Koff, 13, on opening day of the 2017 Wisconsin gun-deer season on public land in Pierce County.  
“A nice eight-point buck came and stood 12 yards from our ground blind,” Hanson said. “I told Payton to hold off until we could see better. It was just a bit too dark to make sure of what may have been beyond the target.”
The two hunters sat for a few minutes, watching and whispering, and then the buck ran off.
“We were right to wait, I told Payton. I know he was bummed not being able to take the shot, but better safe than sorry,” Hanson recalls telling Payton. “It’s the first day in the season and another buck is likely to come along.”
None did. The two hunters finished the season without shooting any deer, but with memories and making plans for the 2018 deer season.
Payton’s mom, Pauline Koff, nominated Cody for the ethical hunter award after hearing the story of how he rightfully explained to her son the ethical thing to do.
"They still had fun and were very excited about seeing a buck that close,” Pauline said.
“About 50 years ago my great grandfather was shot while hunting on public land when another hunter mistook him for a deer during poor light conditions,” Cody said. “The hunter just didn’t know his target for sure. That ended my great grandfather’s hunting and everything else.”
After the season, Cody and Payton talked more and realized the special moments they had with a buck standing 12 yards away.
In discussing the nominations, Steve Dewald, one of the four committee members, explained that every hunter understands the need to follow the law.  
“However, this year’s ethical hunter went beyond the legal requirements, holding himself and a young companion to a higher standard," Dewald said. "By reinforcing the importance of also being ethical in the presence of a young hunter, his actions fit the theme of the award, which is behavior that reflects positively on the tradition of hunting.”
Bob Lamb, another committee member who, along with Dewald, helped to initiate the award, said, “There was a great group of nominations for the 2017 award, but this one stood out because of the ethical behavior shown toward the young hunter by his older companion.
“Although shooting hours were legally open, the young hunter listened to his companion, followed his suggestions, and also remembered his hunter education of knowing your target and what is beyond,” Lamb added. “This example of ethical behavior is exactly what this award is all about.”
The Ethical Hunter Award was created in 1997, by Lamb, Dewald and Jerry Davis, all of whom are committee members along with Warden Schaller.
Nominations for the 2018 award are due Jan. 15, 2019, and can be sent to Warden Schaller, any committee member, or any Wisconsin DNR field warden.

Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or 608-924-1112.