Ever had a strong opinion regarding deer management? Most of us have. With the whitetail off-season fully underway, there is much to do before fall hunting seasons begin. One top priority for whitetail hunters should be finding ways to make a difference. The best — getting involved in local deer management.
You can’t influence hunting policies by having campfire discussions at deer camp. You must get involved and attend meetings to educate yourself and others about their importance. Change follows involvement.
Whitetails Unlimited (WU) and Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) might also have local branches where you can get involved. These are excellent places to start and will connect you with the right people.
Non-profits aside, exact timing will vary, but in the coming weeks, many counties will conduct County Deer Advisory Council (CDAC) meetings, or something similar. These should give residents a chance to make their voices heard regarding critical deer management issues, such as: doe harvest goals, tag availabilities, management boundaries, and more.
Also, every year, state agencies make plans to decrease, maintain, or increase the deer herd based on current information, and they too conduct periodical meetings during the off-season. Most meetings are open to the public and DNR/state agency representatives will provide detailed presentations outlining harvests from the previous fall deer season. They also guide conversations and answer general questions the public or council might have regarding deer numbers and harvest statistics. These science-based presentations help authorities decide how many doe tags to allow with each license sold, and how many bonus doe tags should be allowed for purchase on private and public lands as well. Your voice can make a difference.
Need an example where such public involvement had an impact? In 2016, the Waupaca County, Wisconsin, CDAC voted during their preliminary meeting to have doe-only seasons for all weapons. However, after more than 750 attendees from the public showed up to voice their opinions in this whitetail-rich county, the CDAC reversed their original vote and rejected the measure. This is one of many examples of passionate landowners, hunters and deer managers voicing their opinions and having an impact.
Even though the Waupaca County suggestion for doe-only seasons failed, it raised awareness to the entire county that hunters must shoot more does there. The message became a part of many conversations that year.
Your participation may seem insignificant, but ask any wildlife biologist and they’ll speak to the importance of your involvement. Can you imagine if no one reported outbreaks of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) or positive tests of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD? All aspects of deer management are important, and so is your input. Deer management is often a political and polarizing issue where policy doesn’t change overnight. However, getting involved on the grassroots level is more productive than armchair quarterbacking, and that begins with you.