One of the biggest misconceptions about wolves, and what I believe to be one of the main drivers behind this state’s senseless wolf slaughter, is the idea that wolves are “decimating” the deer population.

With all the violent, vengeful and unfounded slander being thrown at wolves by Wisconsin hunters these days – most wanting to see all wolves eradicated as if they were vermin – it was so refreshing to stumble upon this insight from a young Wisconsin deer hunter with a higher sense of responsibility:

“Deer hunting in Wisconsin has absolutely imploded over the past 5-7 years. Here are a few of my thoughts on how we can turn this ship around…

#1 – $25 Doe Tags (No more free or cheap doe tags! If I want meat, I am happy to pay $25 for a doe tag. That still only figures out to about .45/lb.)

#2 – One Buck Only. When a hunter buys a license, they get a buck tag. They can fill it using gun or bow, but we all only get one per year. That will allow a good number of bucks to survive and grow one year older. Some will say, “I don’t care about antler size, I hunt for meat.” No one is stopping you from shooting the first buck you see. But, I have never heard another hunter complain about seeing a big one.

#3 – Allow Feeding Again. While I’m not a big proponent of feeding or baiting during season, there is no reason why someone shouldn’t be able to help the deer herd through the winter after the hunting seasons are over. The DNR have it backwards right now, baiting should not be allowed during hunting season but feeding outside of the deer seasons should be permitted.

#4 – Raise Non-Resident License Fees by $90. $250 is still an inexpensive ticket to some highly enjoyable entertainment and fine table fare! If hunters see the value here, they will still gladly pay the fee. If they are just coming for cheap meat, they may stay home.

Deer hunting in this state is as much of a tradition as Thanksgiving and to see it deteriorate to what it is now in most parts is very unfortunate. We as sportsmen have more of a responsibility to make wise decisions than the DNR. We are the ones pulling the trigger, not them. And for the wolves, they still only account for around 15% of the annual deer mortality [its actually 6%, according to a 5-year study conducted by the University of Wisconsin and the WDNR]. Let’s take a hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves how we plan to regain our deer hunting greatness in this state. Change will be painful for a few years but if we don’t make adjustments now, we will suffer through many more deerless seasons. Times change and we must adapt. If we manage our resources well, they will be here to enjoy for generations to come.”

I think it is important for us to acknowledge that all hunters are not reckless barbarians, and that there are still many sportsmen who share the same respect for all wildlife and understand the importance in making responsible decisions in the woods.

While wolves only account for a marginal annual percentage of deer mortality (6%), statistics show Wisconsin deer hunters take over SEVEN TIMES that amount (43% annually). And that doesn’t even account for the additional 8% taken by poachers and thousands more deaths caused by motorists each year (6%). (2013 UW / WDNR Deer Mortality statistics found here >> )This is elementary-level math we’re talking here:

Deer Mortality, wolf human statistics

Yet, the state of Wisconsin is currently in the process of slashing its wolf population by one third, in the name of “management” of course. Maybe, before we humans take it upon ourselves to go interfering with a natural predator species that has successfully evolved to survive and sustain a healthy existence over millions of years, perhaps we should first attempt to get our own rates of deer mortality under control.

And to those individuals who still want to immediately direct all the blame at wolves, coyotes, bobcats or any other being you like to call “them” — just remember, every time you point your finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at you.

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