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Turkey hunters can probably look forward to a slight increase in permit levels for the 2013 Wisconsin spring turkey season, although final permit levels will not be set until after the close of the fall turkey season, according to state wildlife officials. Wild turkey hunters have until close of business on Dec. 10 to apply for available permits for the 2013 Wisconsin spring turkey hunting season.
The 2013 spring turkey season officially begins with the April 6-7 Spring Youth Turkey Hunt. The regular turkey season begins on the following Wednesday, April 10 and consists of six seven-day time periods, ending on May 21. The drawing for permits will take place in late January or early February. Successful permit applicants can expect to receive a postcard by mid-February. All applicants may also check their drawing status online through the DNR Online Licensing Center starting in mid-February. Permit winners can purchase their spring turkey license when the 2013 license year begins on March 6. Permits are $15 for Wisconsin residents and $60 for non-residents plus a 2013 Wild Turkey Stamp ($5.25). First time buyers may qualify for reduced license costs. Conservation patrons and senior citizen recreation card holders do not need to purchase a turkey license or stamp when they go to pick up their permit. Permits remaining after the initial drawing for the 2013 spring turkey season will be available for purchase in late March, at a date to be specified later.
Hunters registered just more than 4,400 black bears during the 2012 black bear season in Wisconsin, which state wildlife officials say is the second highest number on record. Hunters registered 5,133 bears in 2010 and 4,257 in 2011. Wisconsin is known throughout the country as having both large bear as well as an abundant population that lives primarily in the northern third and central forest area of the state, according to Kevin Wallenfang, big game ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources. “In recent years, bear have become more common throughout the state including many central and southern counties. We had a bear reported as far south as Green County this year, and we’re hearing of more bear living year-round in many central counties,” he says.
Bear hunters have until midnight on Dec. 10 to apply for a harvest permit for the 2013 hunting season, or preference point for future years. The number of permits available for the 2013 black bear hunt has not yet been determined. “We are currently looking at information from the 2011 and 2012 hunts, and will present our recommended harvest levels to the Natural Resources Board in January,” Wallenfang says.
The DNR, with the help of volunteers from the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association and other cooperators, has been conducting research to better estimate the number of bear in the state. A similar study done in 2006 showed significantly more than previously estimated, so harvest quotas and permits were increased. “We are likely now to the point where we will need to consider backing off on permit levels in some areas this year,” Wallenfang said.
Wisconsin’s bear harvest permits are strictly limited, and hunters must apply for several years before receiving a permit. “We had more than 104,000 applications for just over 9,000 permits last year,” Wallenfang says. The wait time to receive a permit varies by management zone and has been running between four and nine years, and could increase if harvest quotas are reduced.
Hunters are reminded that in order to retain their accumulated preference points, they must apply at least once during any three consecutive year period or they will lose all previously accumulated preference points. If a zone is selected at the time of purchase and the hunter is selected in the February drawing, their preference points will be reset to zero, even if they do not purchase the harvest permit. Winners in the drawing will be notified by mail shortly after the drawing and may purchase their 2013 Class A bear license beginning March 6.
The 2013 bear season begins Sept. 4 and runs through Oct. 8 with hound hunters starting first in most zones.
Applications for the permit drawing cost $3 and may be purchased through the Online Licensing Center on the DNR website, at all authorized license agents, at DNR Service Centers (Hours for service centers vary; check the DNR website for service center days and hours of operation; DNR Service Centers are not open on Saturdays), or by calling toll-free 1-877-LICENSE (1-877-945-4236). Applications postmarked after the December 10th deadline, or those which have been filled out incorrectly, will not be considered for the drawings. Hunters can check their preference point status by visiting the Online Licensing Center, by calling Customer Service & Licensing toll-free at 1-888- WDNRINFo (1-888-936-7463), or by contacting a local DNR Service Center.
Wisconsin’s deer hunting heritage lives and grows through the sharing of hunting stories. If each licensed hunter created one new story to share at camp this year, there are 633,460 new stories to pass along, with more than 243,000 of them ending with the harvest of a deer. This year’s preliminary tally indicates 243,739 deer were registered by gun deer hunters between Nov. 17 and Nov. 26.
“It’s great to see the level of hunter participation that we do in Wisconsin, and equally as great to see that more hunters had success than last year,” said Kevin Wallenfang, big game ecologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “I’ve talked to several hunters that saw more deer than in past years in much of the state but also to some who saw less. So there are areas where deer observations were low, as we knew there would be. This sort of feedback, along with the harvest numbers, is important as we continue to work with hunters to best manage deer populations in the state.” The preliminary nine-day harvest numbers are collected through a call-around survey of 600-plus deer registration stations all across Wisconsin and likely will increase when all registration tags are officially counted. This year’s preliminary harvest totals are up 7.7 percent from 2011. The preliminary tally showed hunters harvested 114, 822 bucks and 128,917 antlerless deer. This compared to 2011 preliminary harvest figures of 102,837 bucks and 123,423 antlerless, for a 12 percent and 4 percent increase respectively. A breakdown of the harvest by DNR region and county is available in portable document format (pdf) on the DNR website.
“Once again Wisconsin was the deer hunting destination for hundreds of thousands of hunters. Hunting is about family, friends, fun and tradition. More than 600,000 people were out connecting with the land, and in doing so renewed their commitment to sustaining our natural resources for generations to come,” said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp.
Of the total number of licenses purchased this year, nearly 29,000 were First Time Buyer licenses. New female hunters represented 33 percent of this total, and another 33 percent of first time buyers were youth, ages 17 and under. Additionally, 80 First Time Buyer licenses were sold to hunters 80 and older.
“Seeing so many new buyers, along with some returning or new hunters over the age of 80, illustrates how deep our deer hunting heritage runs,” said Sec. Stepp. “Getting women and youth involved in hunting is essential for continuing our state’s hunting heritage. When women and moms are involved, the family follows.”
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Organizers of ice fishing tournaments will want to apply for a permit for their 2013 event as soon as possible, and they can use a new online feature aimed at making the process faster and more user friendly.
Organizers need to apply at least 30 days before their scheduled event, and they can now create a user account where they can store their information and use it to populate new applications so they don’t have to retype the information every time they apply, says Hadley Boehm, Department of Natural Resources tournament database coordinator.
They also will be able to log back in anytime to see the status of their permit applications and to pay online. “The idea is to make applying for tournaments online faster and more user-friendly,” she says.
The new feature is aimed at tournament organizers who frequently apply for tournament permits, or people who apply for a traditional tournament every year, Boehm says.
Tournament organizers are still able to apply by printing out a tournament application and sending it and the application fee in to DNR. Download the application form and find more information by going to DNR’s home page, dnr.wi.gov and searching for “fishing tournaments.”
Organizers need a tournament permit in cases in which any of the following apply:
In 2012 Wisconsin has received 573 tournament permit applications; 114 of them for ice fishing tournaments. So far for 2013, 215 applications have been received, of which 69 are for ice fishing events. Those numbers are similar to figures for 2011 and 2010.
"Successful hunting is not coming home with meat for the table." That from Bob Lamb, retired La Crosse Tribune outdoors editor and co-founder of the Tribune/Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Hunter Ethics Award. "A successful hunt is returning home knowing you were safe and ethical. And, only you know that."
Jerry Davis, Steve Dewald and Lamb established the state award in 1997. Davis is a retired instructor from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, who lives in Barneveld, Wis. Dewald retired as DNR conservation warden supervisor in the La Crosse area in 2011. "We recognize and sometimes reward hunters who take a special bear, turkey or deer," Davis said. "We should do the same for special hunters, who continue to have a high regard for the animals they take, are willing to help their fellow hunters, and who respect the land they hunt on. Most hunters do those things. A very few do not.” Dewald said: "The award demonstrates how the considerate acts of one or more hunters can positively influence the enjoyment of other hunters. At a time when society seems to be polarized over many issues, the award's theme reminds all hunting groups to come together to engage in actions that reflect positively on the tradition of hunting."
For the first time in the history of the award, one family swept both adult and youth honors in 2011. David Sander, of Woodville, Wis., and James Sander, from, Baldwin Wis., were co-winners of the Tribune/DNR Adult Hunter Ethics Award, while David's son, Colton, was the recipient of the Tribune/DNR Youth Hunter Ethics Award.
Dan McGuire, principal at Tomahawk Elementary School in Tomahawk, Wis., nominated the Sander trio after they helped McGuire's then 15-year-old son, Jacob, find his nine- point buck.
Todd Schaller, from Madison, is the state DNR Recreation Enforcement and Education section chief for the Bureau of Law Enforcement. He joined Dewald, Davis and Lamb on last year's selection panel.
"The award is about recognizing people who do the right thing as it occurs as a hunter, or in a hunting setting," Schaller said. "It really represents what the majority of hunters believe and are about."
To become eligible for the 2012 award: