Some of the best deer camp stories have nothing to do with deer.
Could be that a hunter had an encounter with a mountain lion or a bear or a wolf.
And, of course, there are the deer stories — of that big buck that couldn’t be bagged.
There also are times when there are no wildlife-related stories at all — no sightings of any sorts, deer or otherwise. Nothing.
No matter. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources again wants to hear about it all.
According to the DNR, with the start of deer hunting in Wisconsin — the archery season opened last weekend — state wildlife officials kicked off the seventh annual Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey. The easy-to-do survey allows hunters to record their observations of deer and other wildlife while in the field. Survey results help track population trends for Wisconsin’s deer herd and other wildlife.
The DNR asks hunters to record all of their hunting activity throughout the deer season, even if no wildlife sightings were made during a hunt. The observations provide the DNR with an index regarding the abundance of numerous wildlife species. On the deer front, in 2014, there were more than 15,000 trips logged totaling more than 66,000 hours of observations. In addition, hunters reported 5,634 bucks, 13,419 does and 8,253 fawns. Since starting in 2009, the Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey has recorded more than 80,000 hunting trips from hunters around the state.
At the end of each year, participants will receive a personalized summary of all recorded wildlife from that season. Participants can access the survey webpage by going to dnr.wi.gov/topic/WildlifeHabitat/wlsurvey.html. Tally sheets can be filled out either electronically or printed from the site. The survey period ends in January.
The survey asks for the basic information, such as days hunted, number of hours hunted and zone hunted. Then hunters are asked — via electronically or a mail-in tally sheet — to submit the data. In the survey, the DNR asks that hunters report the sighting of 17 species of animals, as well as “other wildlife not normally seen in your area.”
As far as highlights, the latter could provide that — interesting and educational.
The DNR also asks survey-takers to spread the word about the survey — and to keep those trail camera photos coming. The trail camera gallery can be accessed through the Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey webpage — aside from being highly interesting to most hunters, trail cam photos also are an important tool for the DNR. The agency asks people to check back often as the site is updated as soon as new photos are received.
Also, for landowners interested in being a part of these hunts — and stories — down the road, the DNR wants to hear from you, too. It will host an online chat at noon Tuesday, Sept. 22 for all landowners interested in learning more about Wisconsin’s Deer Management Assistance Program. According to the DNR, it will be on hand to answer any questions landowners might have.
According to the DNR, DMAP provides assistance to landowners who want to maximize the wildlife habitat potential of their property. The agency said landowners and managers receive one-on-one contact with a DNR wildlife biologist, invitations to landowner workshops, technical information and the opportunity to network with other landowners. The DNR said that, depending on the level of enrollment, some landowners additionally may receive property visits, management plans and more.