More than 500 people attend meeting in Waupaca
By Greg Seubert
A controversial recommendation that called for antlerless-only deer hunts this year in Waupaca County has been overturned.
More than 500 people showed up for a County Deer Advisory Council meeting April 19 at Waupaca High School. Only a handful of people have attended the council’s other meetings the past two years, but the high turnout was expected after the six-member panel voted 6-0 March 22 to recommend antlerless-only hunts this year as a way of controlling the county’s deer population.
Council members Brian Haase, John Hedtke, Ben Knaack, Doug Korth, David Lindenstruth and Lance Penney voted in favor of the hunt in March. Haase, Hedtke, Knaack and Korth voted against the antlerless-only seasons April 19, while Lindenstruth voted for the antlerless-only hunt and Penney did not attend the meeting.
“I got a lot of feedback,” Hedtke said. “We took a lot of flak up here that (the recommendation) was set in stone. No, it isn’t. I heard you, that’s all I can say.”
Korth, owner of Korth’s Badger Tap in Embarrass, represents tourism stakeholders on the council.
“I was going to change my vote,” he said. “(The March 22 vote) was extremely difficult because we didn’t have the tools to do anything but what (the state Department of Natural Resources) gave us. Hopefully, we can get legislators involved and we can take steps to get more tools to control what needs to be controlled.”
More than 50 people addressed the council during the three-hour meeting.
“I am not a landowner, but I bow hunt on private property in Waupaca County,” Scott Chandler said. “If I’m told I can’t harvest a buck, I will certainly respect that. I harvest an antlerless deer because I like venison, but from that point forward, I hunt big bucks. Think about hour own values and make your own decision.”
Kurt Duxbury operates a large tree farm and dairy near Weyauwega.
“Shooting a bunch of big does is as much fun as shooting a big buck,” he said. “I support whatever they decide to do.”
Mike Wolf hunts on property he owns in the town of Dupont.
“Does are not the worst things in the world, but don’t tell us that we have to shoot them,” he said.
Greg Kazmierski of Pewaukee, vice chairman of the state Natural Resources Board, attended the meeting.
“Just so you know, this group of guys here, they’re not getting paid for this job,” he said. “The one thing I can say about them is of all the CDACs out there, they probably have the biggest set of kahunas of any group that I’ve seen.
“That decision that they made, we have to take some responsibility for it as far as agency,” he said. “The Natural Resources Board is committed to seeing this new deer management system work. In order to work, they need to have good, current data. Unfortunately, we’re still in the early stages in this and some of the data’s not available yet.”
Councils based their recommendations on population model information from the DNR, Kazmierski said.
“That population model of the last decade has created numerous crowds over the years where your gut’s telling you one thing and the model’s telling you something different,” he said. “That’s what we’re here to work out.”
Jeff Pritzl is program manager for the DNR’s Northeast Region, which includes Waupaca, Waushara, Outagamie, Winnebago, Shawano, Brown, Calumet, Door, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marinette, Marquette, Menominee and Oconto counties.
“The department will review every county (vote) that comes in this week and will probably add a little bit of interpretation as to what would this mean from a management standpoint,” he said. “It then gets turned over to the Natural Resources Board. At the May Natural Resources Board meeting, they will ratify the proposals as is or they have the liberty to make adjustments as they see fit.”
Pritzl isn’t surprised that a lot of Waupaca County hunters and landowners showed up to voice their opinion.
“I think it was to be expected and that was shown by the CDAC arranging for a larger facility after their last meeting,” he said. “They certainly anticipated that this would catch attention. I’ve been to a bunch of advisory council meetings over the past two years. Every one of them has had very healthy dialogue on some of these issues that some of these counties have been wrestling with for years. The frustrating thing for me was there were very few people in the audience participating and taking advantage of that. Obviously, that’s not the case tonight.”
“In my opinion, the DNR is making some steps to give the general public more input,” Korth said. ”This was basically a push to help get us some more tools to do a better job.”
He said he received plenty of feedback after the March 22 vote.
“Some were angry, but they voiced their opinions in a civil manner,” he said. “I didn’t have any windows broken in my house. I was amazed how civil everything was.”
Also at the meeting, the council recommended a preliminary antlerless harvest quota of 14,200 for the county as well as 7,500 bonus antlerless permits for purchase. That total includes 7,200 for private land and 300 for public land.
Council members also voted 4-1 to recommend an antlerless-only holiday hunt to run from Dec. 24 to Jan. 1. Hedtke cast the lone no vote.
“I don’t think the original proposal was intended to garner the attention, but their proposal was based on the information they had,” Pritzl said. “They recognized that one of the side effects – for better or for worse – was that this was going to draw a lot of attention. One thing we can safely say is a lot more people know what a CDAC is now than a month ago.”