THE WISCONSIN STORY.....

Discussion in 'Iowa Whitetail Conference' started by Sligh1, Dec 29, 2019.

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  1. Sligh1

    Sligh1 Administrator Staff Member

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    This isn't my story. This isn't one man's take on Wisconsin, this is a little story of spending time with "8 guys from Wisconsin" part of my season here in Iowa to share.


    The key take away from this.... The old saying with many variations of quotes "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it". In many ways is like states not learning lessons from their neighbors – GOOD OR BAD. Wisconsin & so many other states (my home state of Michigan) could teach us so much yet those who live in Iowa have never lived through or been a part of the outdoors, mistakes or ecosystems & opportunities of these states.


    Reflecting 19 years now, starting in Van Buren & Jefferson Co iowa - I've had numerous neighbors in every case from great state of WI. Right now, my home farm.... I bought from a Wisconsin man. I bought the bordering land from another WI man who has no relation to the 1st. The other WI neighbors I have are also different. All these are great, fine folks who I have become friends with & think much of. I can think of no less than 25 different landowners in a 10-mile radius that are from WI - buying land in IA for hunting. Leaving their homes of WI with 10x the amount of habitat, forest & public land that Iowa offers. Perplexing isn't it?!?! Double that # of 25+ when you add in landowners from PA, IL, MI, MN, etc.


    I got to spend some time in a blind, hunting or visiting with 8 specific folks from WI that specifically allowed me to discuss hunting & share it with others. Many others I’m friends with or neighbors with but these 8 are summarized here. 18 to 76-year-old men. They come from all parts of the state: Iron County, Richland, Pierce, Columbia, Lafayette & Sheboygan. A few of which own hunting farms back in these counties.


    Sitting with these folks was fascinating & interesting. Hearing their lifetime of hunting stories or how the state has changed or even what the "good ol days" looked like. I somehow found myself asking every 8 of the folks some of the same questions & here's the replies I got. Some are incredibly simple, other questions & answers were long discussions, I'll summarize & condense the best I can.....


    “Q: What is the quality like in WI compared to the past, say 10 or 20 years ago?

    A: The folks further North: we have almost no deer now. Vast majority of hunts - you will see zero deer. Winters are brutal, wolves have taken a toll & regulations of the past have never allowed recovery. If you are lucky enough to see a buck, you best shoot it but chances are slim at seeing one. 20 years ago, it will considerably better for seeing & shooting deer. We have other issues up there as well now like wolves & winter kill.


    Folks further South: It's "ok".... if you are part of a huge management group like in Buffalo Co, you have chances at 4-5 year old deer. Most the hunting is competitive with 1.5 year olds being the norm of the kill. "It's never been "great" since about the time of the CWD madness, earn a buck, crossbow introduction, etc".


    Q: What is hunting like in the CWD areas? Do you know anyone who has land there or you hunt there?

    A: It went from "pretty good" before CWD… To a total wipe out of deer after. It’s finally starting to come back to "decent" again with some mature bucks taken & reasonable deer #’s after folks stopped the massive kill off.

    We have a carcass dumping system & guidelines for disposing of deer & there's a vastly growing movement to simply not eat the deer. DNR is still very aggressive on CWD ideas, tactics & public involvement.



    Q:What's the biggest buck you've ever seen? How often do you see a buck with a "frame" like a 2 or 3 year old + ?

    A: 2-3 of them had never seen a buck with a "rack" older than 1.5. Two had shot 1-2 of them but was 7-10 years ago. 1 of the guys shot a 2.5 year old that was about 120" & that was a good buck for his area.

    UNANIMOUSLY!!!.... Every single hunter of the 8 "I saw 4-10 bucks bigger than any buck I've ever seen in Wisconsin in 4 to 50 years of hunting" Varied. The oldest hunter with us spent 50 years never missing a season in WI- he shot a buck that was 6 or 7 years old that was around the 155” mark. It was the biggest buck he'd ever seen or shot & named the buck "RETIREMENT" as he'll never see a bigger one in his lifetime in WI. Proud hunters on that buck!

    CONTINUED......
     
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  3. Sligh1

    Sligh1 Administrator Staff Member

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    Q: Why do you think New Hunter Recruitment in Wisconsin is such a problem? Do you see this yourself & why do you think this is happening?

    A: Wisconsin has thrown “EVERYTHING” at the youth trying to get them to hunt…. Seasons for them. New weapons like crossbow, special youth seasons & other ways for youth to fill tags. It’s not working & never going to work. The problem is many issues…. 1) In so many parts of the state, there’s not quality hunting to be found… Many areas of the state, one will go out expecting no deer sightings. 2) The competition for good land with quality hunting is so great, the youth don’t have access to good quality hunting. 3) The use of things like electronics has kids wanting fast results & instant gratification – the hunting has gotten so slow & difficult- the patience is not there. 4) All the new seasons, weapons & things to bolster license sales has just made the hunting degrade further- more competition from folks that already hunted, more folks wanting to insulate from bad government laws & regulations. It’s created less opportunity It's created a chance at an older buck almost impossible in most areas.

    No matter what the politicians & special interests throw at the kids – it’s not going to help & hasn’t with so many pockets of poor-quality hunting & the high-quality areas being locked up. 5) Public land is widely accepted as some of the most over-hunted, high traffic areas where there is deer. In areas with poor deer #’s… That public doesn’t get much pressure but it’s due to lack of deer so youth or anyone really, doesn’t spend much time there or have interest to.



    Q: In a nutshell, who do you blame for the problems in Wisconsin’s hunting? The Hunters, Politicians, DNR or who? Is there a solution to the vast array of “problems” or challenges?

    A: All of the above. The DNR is throwing everything & the kitchen sink to 1) Sell more licenses/tags 2) Throwing any idea at getting new hunters to join in the sport 3) Try different strategies & public messaging for the CWD issue.

    The Public is like most in any State, just like human nature… The majority is usually resistant to change. *One example, we had a QDMA meeting for our county that was widely advertised… 4 people showed up. The rest have no desire to change what they shoot or how they manage or to even hear a different perspective. The public continues to want to simply “shoot deer” regardless of biology or management.

    The Politicians & Special interests, as suspected, like anywhere – are mainly concerned with MONEY. Such as: Gun Sales, license sales, ammunition sales, crossbow sales, etc. The fact of the matter though… Many counties & cities that used to be supported by hunters – the business & economics of deer hunting is dead. This is mainly true in the Northern States with little to no deer. There’s no doubt $ is the main issue here good or bad, but everything they’ve tried has had short term benefits as the hunting degrades & ultimately leaves them grasping for the next idea to increase the $. It’s a vastly complicated set of issues and problems. Like any public issue with so many moving parts & lack of understanding – incredibly hard to fix. Wish it was like Iowa – where you don’t have many of these issues BUT you will need fight every year to defend the system.


    Q: Do you think Iowa has tremendous hunting overall? Do you feel like when you meet residents here, they understand how good they have it?

    A: Iowa is one of the best managed states hands down. The hunting is night & day different than anywhere in WI. MAYBE places like a huge managed farm around Buffalo Co could compete but overall, it’s no contest. WI has 10-15 times the habitat & potential, but it’s almost completely wasted opportunity. So many folks in WI have bought land or moved to places like Iowa, KS, etc or just quit hunting. No comparison.

    I personally don’t think general public of Iowa has any clue how great they have it. Surely not the average weekend warrior in Iowa. I personally don’t think the general public in Iowa has any clue how or why it’s so bad in Wisconsin. They have no idea how drastically different it is & lack some appreciation and understanding of how great their home state is. The folks that seem to get it the most are the folks who have moved to Iowa from other states and seem what all these crazy regulations & poorly run system can do to the overall sport.

    Running the hunting of ANY state is clearly very difficult, especially such a HUGE area & number of hunters like WI. WI does not want to take up examples & ideas from Iowa for the most part.

    It seems some in Iowa are willing to fall into the same pitfalls & traps that WI & most other states have. POLITICS & $ are the two problems that could combine to become Iowa's biggest threat. Likely because they are chasing the $ without understanding the outcome that will come down the road. Folks in your state need to never quit fighting to keep the regulations the same & keep Iowa great. Folks need to spread the word & educate – even non-hunters or especially non-hunters (politician non-hunters) – how great Iowa is and how fragile it is. As our friends leave WI to go to Iowa or Kansas, etc – if those states are ruined like many others – where will they go next?


    Q: Any other thoughts? You enjoy your time in Iowa? Are you going out deer hunting in WI anymore this year?

    A: Iowa is paradise. I saw more in XYZ days than in 5-10 years in WI. I love it here and hate leaving. I’ll go out in WI but just to get outside, not to seriously hunt. Be thankful of what you have here. What an amazing state.”


    THANK YOU to 8 WI Hunters for letting me pick your brains & discuss this with me. I’ve spoken to at least 20-25 folks from WI & above is the conversations with 8 of those – who will know who they are as I specifically asked them if I could summarize & post our conversations. I sure enjoyed my time with our Northern Visitors. I sure hope this gives thought & makes some difference to the Citizens of the great state of Iowa. Appreciate & Fight to protect this fragile & precious resource!
     
  4. Daver

    Daver PMA Member

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    Substitute the word "Wisconsin" with Missouri, Illinois, Michigan or Vermont (some of my neighbors) and I could write virtually the same story. Good thoughts...we need to stay vigilant here in our state.
     
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  5. Hardwood11

    Hardwood11 It is going to be a good fall!

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    Minnesota is similar. Great habitat, good genetics. But 25 gun season days in November and early December. Actually 29 gun days now as we added a youth gun season during our MEA Oct 17-21 (popular weekend for ducks, grouse, pheasants).

    That’s it .. in a nutshell. Big changes will be needed to make it a great state again.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2019
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  6. Wi transplant

    Wi transplant PMA Member

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    I am one!!! In the past 3 yrs i have thrown in the towel on wi.!! I sold everything !! 80 acre farm in the u.p. of mi.! (Owned 6 yrs hoping better than wi.) My house and made the decision to make the move! To southern iowa.! Skip your story is spot on!! The Dnr skips the most important aspect of deer hunting! The deer!!!! When new hunters and young hunters go out and see little or nothing they are not doing it for long!! They dont listen to hunters and continually tell you there are more deer than there really is!! I will be moving in next couple of months and am truly looking forward to it!!! And yes i will be a huge advocate to educating and keeping iowa The way it is!!!! Iowa is a very special place in terms of wildlife and land and people! Putting the wrong people in charge of it will be devestating!!!!! I LIVED IT !!!!!! Fight to keep what you have!!!!

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  7. Elvis188

    Elvis188 PMA Member

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    Interesting topic. I too have had quite a bit of experience with Wisconsin hunters in Kansas. I invited a business associate down years ago and that led to a few of his friends and acquaintances making the trip yearly as well. The one thing they always talked about was the qualifying deer we have compared to WI. My biggest challenge was always getting them to hold out for a quality deer. All of them regardless of age wanted to drop the hammer on anything with antlers even though some of them had killed their personal best with me in past years. It’s like they just couldn’t help themselves.

    Once my original guy stopped making the trip , his buddies kept hunting with us. Even after 15 years only one guy got the hold out for quality issue. About 4 years ago one of them leased a piece out from under me and invited 6 of his friends to start hunting this 1000 acre piece. The first two years they were shooting does on opening morning plus any buck that walked. It was pitiful thinking. The first year they shot 5 bucks and 7 does off of the property. The oldest buck was 3 1/2. The next year they they grabbed another 500 acre piece next door and shot the same amount of deer off of the 1500 acres with no mature bucks shot. Last year they only killed 4 bucks and 5 does and again nothing mature.

    The 1000 acre piece sold and that guy told me they had nothing worth hunting on camera this year. Only two of the WI boys got tags to hunt the 500 acres this year and they never saw a buck. I’m not against anyone from WI but if the guys goal is to simply have a new place to come do the “if it’s Brown it’s Down” deal then I would just as soon have him stay home. I had to pay crazy money to get the 500 acre piece back for 2020 just so those guys are out of the neighborhood.

    My point with this story is to basically point out that the hunters and their own poor management habits can ruin the best for everyone in an area. Not everybody has this mindset to kill em all and let god sort them out but after 15 years of it I am glad I finally don’t have to see these guys again. In a few years the 1500 acres and the surrounding area will be back in good shape thanks to proper management.

    Again, I am not apposed to non residents, I just want them to leave their own bad habits that have ruined their own hunting at home!
     
  8. Wi transplant

    Wi transplant PMA Member

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    I liked your post because you are spot on ! The mentality of if i dont shoot it someone will is hard to break! The sad part is that the hunting you described is probaly the best they have ever had !!!! Just having a deer to shoot at ! They were happy ! And in the last 15 yrs its became much worse in poorly managed states! It truly does come down to the individual themselves !!!

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  9. Slick

    Slick Active Member

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    I know Skip and my Uncle has some land near Skip. I am convinced that Iowans do not understand how good you have it. For me living in the Northern WI the three biggest factors in the decline have been generous doe tags, Crossguns, and wolves. At some point the DNR decided we had to decimate the doe population. They pounded it home that deer were eating all the future forests to the ground. This whole concept is nuts when you look at the deer per square mile. At the end of the day it’s the hunter that has the choice of pulling the trigger or not so hunters take some of the blame here. Then Crossguns were allowed in against the will of the hunters. People who would have never considered hunting with a bow are now “bow hunters”. And there are lots of them. Lastly the tree huggers have gotten protections on Wolves. We have more than enough Wolves, but we are prevented from hunting them or Trapping them because of the Anti’s. About 5 years ago we were able to get a season after a huge fight and filled the quota in 3 days…..250 wolves. Skip mentions Iron County which has 919 square miles of land. This year 296 deer were killed in that county. So basically 1 deer per every 3 square miles of land. Can you guys kill 1 deer every 3 square miles? What really made me realize that hunters of Iowa do not understand the dangers of season structure changes was this post below. Season structure changes have HUGE consequences if you don’t fight each and every one of these changes it will not be long and Iowa and Missouri will not be any different.


    https://iowawhitetail.com/forum/threads/crossbows-whats-the-big-deal.58627/page-3#post-653582
     
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  10. Hardwood11

    Hardwood11 It is going to be a good fall!

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    One huge positive for Iowa is hunters are forced to choose a gun season ... 1, 2 or Muzzy. Plus it’s all in December (except for early Muzzy)

    In MN for example they can hunt both gun and muzzy. Some guys literally never leave the stand, many guys hunt 20+ gun days ... and that’s during the rut. Bucks have tough odds to survive.
     
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  11. Wi transplant

    Wi transplant PMA Member

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    Imo. 2 of the biggest factors in iowas mgt. Plans are limiting the non residents !! To 15000 ( wi in 2014 28500) and no firearms in nov. !!!! Mi. Opens nov 15th. Wi is sat before thanksgiving. Lots of bucks get shot with breeding going on!

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  12. Wi transplant

    Wi transplant PMA Member

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    You are spot on !!!! If you have never experienced an opening day in wi when all almost 600k hunters are out at same time. Some areas sound like a small war has broken out !!!!!!! Spreading out the preassure on the deer is huge!#

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  13. IowaBowHunter1983

    IowaBowHunter1983 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    1. Congrats on the move
    2. Yes!....Please be advocate and thanks in advance. We need as many of us as possible. We will be under attack every. Single. Year.
    3. Amen
     
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  14. loewmd

    loewmd Member

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    Your post is spot on. I grew up in northern WI and after college and the military took a job here in IA. I'll never go back. I've been a huge proponent for keeping things the same in IA. I've written representatives when they were trying to introduce more rifle cartridges. Just leave the laws alone. Like was stated above changing laws to appease the youth will not create lifelong hunters. It's an excuse to pass a law that benefits politicians and special interests. The problems with hunting in N WI is too many doe tags and hunters filled everyone they could which led to really low populations. Now add in harsh winters and exploding predator populations and deer sightings become scarce. I've shot probably 3 bucks up there that were 3+ and none of them grossed over 125 (122 was the biggest). Once every 7-10 yrs a buck shows up over 150. Biggest deer I ever saw hunting there was 152 that got shot in rifle season. A guy in IA can see more trophy bucks hunting in one year than in 20yrs where I grew up. NR sometimes complain about the cost of tags or not being able to hunt every year but you don't hear them complaining about the quality here. IMO you can't change the regulations and keep the quality.
     
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  15. Fishbonker

    Fishbonker Life Member

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    Several thoughts come to mind after reading the comments from Wisconsinonians (Wisconsinites, Wisconsiners, Wisconsiniens, folks from Wisconsin). The first one is loss of hunting ground for locals. It seems kinda backassward that what we have fought for is giving NR hunters a chance to swoop in and take advantage of what we have made possible. Can you imagine how much access would be lost if we allowed NR landowners the ability to legally shoot up to three bucks a year? Don't get me wrong, I'm all for hunters from other states coming to Iowa but in manageable numbers. This is one of the issues that continues to show up every year.

    We can learn very good lessons from the insights of others, all of the hunters Skip spoke with stressed how politics and money have changed hunting in other states. You can say that money runs politics so it is actually money or the grab for you hunting dollars that control the laws for hunting.

    There is another aspect of money influencing legislation. At least one legislator that I know of has an axe to grind with the DNR for being fined for improper agricultural practices. Even though the fines come from the EPA side of the DNR the legislator takes every opportunity to vote against anything the DNR wants.

    Another example of what might influence hunting laws is a legislator who has a very large grudge against the wildlife side of the DNR. I have heard speculation as to why that is but it is speculation only. I had a conversation with a gentleman the other day who says this legislator has threatened to propose legislation for a new season or at least add to second season gun that would allow a hunter to use any weapon (I assume gun) to kill deer. In other words it would be time to dig up that bazooka you've had buried in the back yard for the zombie apocalypse so you could practice for the zombies on deer. It is my fervent hope that this proposal never sees the light of day but it would increase gun sales so who knows?

    Take home message from Skips summations: politics controls hunting laws and money controls politics.

    Usually it's a couple of weeks into the legislative session before I get this depressed.
     
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  16. Hardwood11

    Hardwood11 It is going to be a good fall!

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    You guys in Iowa are wrong,.. Tree Spud on Habitat Talk says Wisconsin is better for big bucks than Iowa...

    Based on registered bucks... check it out
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2019
  17. Wi transplant

    Wi transplant PMA Member

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    Love all the comments on this subject! But everyone needs to keep in mind (WE) elect these people (WE) hold the ultimate power! The second amendmant just lets us keep it! Never underestimate the power of your vote!! Or lack of voting!! We need to pay attention and stay informed so they cant slip these changes buy us burried in another bill !! My 2 cents.

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  18. MN Slick

    MN Slick PMA Member

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    If they think WI is bad try hunting in MN!
     
  19. loewmd

    loewmd Member

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    I can say he is wrong. Record books don't mean much to me. I will say WI should be better than IA but the regulations in that state won't allow for it and the mindset of"if I don't shoot it someone else will" is too pervasive at this time. If you owned enough ground in the right areas of that state no doubt you'd be knocking down giants on a yearly basis. My brother has friends doing this but for your average hunter who can't afford that it's tough.
     
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  20. Lucky 13

    Lucky 13 Member

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    IMO, it comes down to the actual hunters in an area practicing QDMA. I hunt both Nebraska and Iowa (Ringgold) for 30+ years. NE has 10 days of rifle season in the middle of the rut, 90+ days or archery, a month long muzzleloaders season and a late rifle season and it has little effect on the overall herd WHEN MANAGED BY INDIVIDUAL HUNTERS CORRECTLY. Still plenty of deer to go around with lots of mature bucks.

    The problem is with the "brown and down" crowd and very poor hunting tactics/skills which lead to killing the wrong deer and over-pressuring deer herds. Add in the fact that many hunters don't take the time to educate themselves about habitat management. Deer are a resource that must be managed correctly or it will be wasted just like any other resource. I speak with family and neighbors about these topics but 95% don't want to change or sacrifice 1-3 seasons of passing on young deer, or better hunting approaches, or habitat improvements to be able to consistently kill mature deer.

    Yes money and politics are also responsible to a significant effect but we elect these politicians!

    It is up to us to educate the next generation by teaching REAL hunting and wildlife management and not just killing. Our wildlife abundance has made many hunters lazy and lose important hunting skills.

    I feel very blessed to have grown up in a hunting family in Southern Iowa and NE.
     
  21. loewmd

    loewmd Member

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    Try not to get too depressed about politics already. We appreciate you bringing the issues to light for us. As far as the representatives you mentioned with an axe to grind would you care to give their names so we can watch out for them as well? I already have been monitoring the guy from western IA who seems to want every gun allowed to help gun sales at the family shop.
     
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