County Deer Advisory Councils prepare for the 2024 deer season

Public feedback on deer management

The Wisconsin DNR is hosting their annual County Deer Advisory Council meetings to get public input on deer management in preparation for the 2024 deer season.

In preparation for the 2024 deer season, every county in Wisconsin is hosting a deer advisory council meeting. At these meetings, the County Advisory Councils review public input and county data and make final recommendations for the season. This includes the holiday hunt, extended archery season, and antlerless deer quotas for public and private land.

“We started these meetings sometime in the mid-1990s and we’ve held them annually ever since. They’ve changed in recent times. In the last 10 years, we went to this County Deer Advisory Committee format. Before that, it was just us holding a deer meeting similar to this but it was us sitting up front answering all the questions versus a committee of your local citizens,” said Wisconsin DNR Wildlife Biologist Greg Kessler. “The committee is comprised of local representatives from a variety of different functions, forestry, agriculture, conservation clubs, and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress is the chair of the committee.”

At the Douglas County meeting in South Range on Wednesday night, Kessler presented county data including fawn-to-doe ratios, harvest trends, and herd health. According to the DNR, this mild winter will benefit the deer population.

After the presentation and insight from the committee, members of the public had an opportunity to voice their opinions and observations.

“We just keep watching our herd go down and down and down. And what does that do? It’s affecting our economy because it’s taking people from hunting. They’re quitting. Is this what we really want?” said one hunter. “They have to do something with the bears and the freaking wolves, or we will not have a herd.”

Another hunter spoke about how he disagrees that wolves are the issue and instead blames the way many hunt deer.

“I don’t know if it’s laziness or what it is, but boy, if you could walk 100 yards off a trail and throw a bait pile and a camera that’s not hunting,” said the hunter. “You’re taking away from the experience, you’re losing, you’re robbing yourself, you’re robbing the deer, and now we’re making decisions for these deer based solely on emotion.”

Kessler also said that although the population is expected to increase after a mild winter, the timing of this year’s hunt may counter-act that benefit. Going from the earliest opening date to the latest historically amounts to a 10-20% drop in buck harvest.

There will be three more meetings within the Northland, as follows:

  • Sawyer County Deer Advisory Council meeting
    • Monday, April 29 at 6:30 pm
    • DNR Service Center, Large Conference Room
    • 10220 State Hwy 27 in Hayward, WI
  • Iron County Deer Advisory Council Meeting
    • Thursday, May 2 at 6 pm
    • Mercer Community Center
    • 2648 W Margaret Street in Mercer, WI
  • Washburn County Deer Advisory Council Meeting
    • Thursday, May 2 at 6:30 pm
    • DNR Service Center
    • 810 W. Maple St in Spooner, WI

The County Deer Advisory Council recommendations are due May 6th. The DNR will then bring the recommendations for the 2024 season to the Natural Resources Board for consideration in June.