antlerless-only deer season

One of America's Top Whitetail Destinations May Prohibit Shooting Bucks This Season

The quickest way to reduce an animal population is by culling females.

Buffalo County, Wisconsin, is widely considered the No. 1 whitetail hunting destination in all of North America, but this year might be different.

The Buffalo County Deer Advisory Council has suggested an antlerless-only season to address the overpopulation of deer in the area.

As a county that produces trophy bucks at an eye-popping rate, it thrives economically on hunting. So unsurprisingly, the proposed legislation hasn't sat well with local hunters and outfitters.

Alma resident Tom Indebro, the owner of Bluff Country Outfitters, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the majority of his hunts for the year are already booked, which means many of his customers have already purchased flights.

"Holding an antlerless-only hunt would be devastating to local land owners and outfitters who depend on that revenue to pay property and sales taxes every year," he said. "(Our customers) do shoot does but would not travel thousands of miles to just shoot a doe."

However, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the whitetail population increased by 12 percent, despite deer hunting licenses including three free antlerless tags.

Implementing an antlerless-only season is somewhat of a drastic measure, but CDAC chairman Mark Noll believes it's a necessary one, especially when you consider the statewide spread of chronic wasting disease.

"We are 'out of bullets' and our herd is still growing," he said.

According to the report, the CDAC set the 2018 harvest quota at 6,000 antlerless deer. However, the harvest only included 4,257 antlerless deer and 2,753 bucks, and all but 246 fell on private land.

The state issued 37,449 private-land tags in Buffalo County alone, yet only 3,870 of them were actually filled.

Additionally, the county hasn't matched the 6,000-antlerless-deer quota since 2008, when it registered 8,230.

An alternative that previously hit the table was the Earn-A-Buck initiative, which required hunters to harvest an antlerless deer before getting a buck tag. Receiving backlash from the hunting community, the regulation was eliminated in 2011.

The CDAC also suggested an antlerless-only holiday hunt, as well as an either-sex archery season that extended through Jan. 31. But that was met with backlash, too, this time from more than 40 snowmobilers who objected any January hunting season.

After hitting a series of walls, the CDAC members felt there wasn't a better option and voted for the antlerless-only season, despite knowing votes of this nature have resulted in death threats in other areas.

"We don't want to be pushed into using this tool," Noll said. "We also don't want to back off our efforts as if everything is wonderful and nothing is wrong. Our members are greatly concerned to do what is best for the resource. We are crying for help."