The Pierce County Deer Advisory Council is considering a slight increase in the county antlerless harvest quota for the fall 2016 hunting season.
The council reached its decision to raise the preliminary quota by about 280 at its advisory meeting on March 17 in Ellsworth. The members reached this decision after Pierce County Wildlife Biologist Ryan Haffele said the Department of Natural Resources’ pre-hunt deer herd population estimates show a 4 percent increase from last year. The increase has set the preliminary antlerless harvest quota at 4,400.
Other recommendations were to increase the county’s bonus antlerless permits for purchase on private land to 2,200 and the public land bonus tags limit to 400. A small portion of 100 private and 60 public bonus tags would also be available for the Hudson Metro subunit portion of the county that exists in the northwest corner of the county along the Highway 35 dividing line.
Before reaching these preliminary numbers, the council opened up the meeting to three members of the public who came to comment on the county’s deer practices.
Two of these public speakers had very different deer experiences over the past year. One Ellsworth Township landowner came to speak about the excess deer he has on his wooded property. George Grajkowski said he needs to find other ways to manage the excess deer on his property that have damaged trees by eating and “rubbing up” on them.
“I want to protect my trees,” Grajkowski said. “I want to grow this for the future. I want to pass this on to my kids.”
Grajkowski said he has been issued year-round nuisance tags by the DNR to help relieve the deer problem on his property. However, he mentioned that he does not have time to process the deer carcasses himself and has not found satisfactory hunters to help out.
Pierce County hunter Bill Pabst was present to state that he has the exact opposite problem. Pabst only has public land to hunt in Pierce County, and said overcrowding is a common issue. He would like to see more public bonus tags.
“Seeing your charts, I guess we’ve got the herd pretty good,” Pabst said. “I wish I had George (Grajkowski)’s problem. All I’ve got to hunt is public land, and it’s 6 percent (of the total county deer range). So if you see a deer, you shoot the deer because if you don’t the guy 100 yards away is going to do it anyways.”
Chuck Boley, chair of the Pierce County Deer Advisory Council, responded to the concerns by saying an uneven deer population will probably be a concern in the area forever.
“I wish we had a good solution for you right here tonight, George,” Boley said. “There are probably a lot of folks sitting here thinking, ‘Boy, I wish we had that many deer on our land.’ Unfortunately, you have the problem to the other extreme.”
The council also chose not to enact a recommendation for a Dec. 24 through Jan. 1 “Holiday Hunt” in Pierce County. An antlerless only season was also rejected.
Now that preliminary quota recommendations have been proposed, the public will have an opportunity to provide feedback during the public comment period in April. The next Pierce County Deer Advisory Council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on April 21 at the Ellsworth High School library.