We need to get the word out to hunters. How would you like to pay $2000 for a deer license? Their right to hunt on public lands by paying an affordable price for a deer license is under attack in Wisconsin. There is no point in owning a deer rifle if you don't have a place to use it.
This is the state of hunting in Texas, thanks to Scott Walker's Deer Czar and the fencing lobby. The Deer Czar thinks that public game management is “the last bastion of communism." If you can't pay what a deer is worth, then shut up and hunt rabbits. People who call for more public lands are “cocktail conservationists,” and national parks are “wildlife ghettos.” The Deer Czar will do what he has already done in Texas--make hunting available to the well-heeled. Keep the peasants out and the deer fenced in. More below.
Hunting is embedded in the culture of the upper Midwest. Deer season brings hunters from cities and other states to public lands, hunting deer for sport and for food. In some families, venison helps to keep people from going hungry. Knowing this, some hunters donate what they cannot eat to food banks. In Iowa last year, 6,300 deer were donated, generating 1.1 million meals. Deer season is a rite of fall, a rite of passage for young people in hunting families, and a social and cultural event. In Iowa, it helps to reduce the population so there are fewer years where starving deer are staggering into people's yards looking for something to eat in deep snow. As someone who has hit two of them on the roads, in some years it seems as though they are everywhere. In Wisconsin, 638,000 people hunt on public lands every year.
Scott Walker has hired some dude from Texas to review the state's deer management program. As reported by the Lodi Valley News, he is a proponent of surrounding private "deer ranches" with eight-foot fences, and charging hunters to use them. Wisconsin has a lot of public land, 5.7 million acres, which Governor Walker's DNR chief wants to sell off. When that is taken care of, we can return to the good old days, when hunting was a pastime for the wealthy:
Instead of $24 for a deer license, hunters will have to find a game farm and pay the "real value" of this resource. As a Walker supporter pointed out, "$750 or $1000 for a deer really is not very expensive. It works out to $12-15/lb for venison, which is no more than we pay for prime beef." Who is "we"? It isn't anyone I know. You would think the NRA would be all over this, but you would be wrong. Their national board loves Walker. It is up to hunters and people who love them to step up and call this what it is: more Walker policies to serve the 1% at the expense of the rest of us.
From the editor of Deer&Deerhunting magazine, this assessment:
What does this all mean? My initial reaction, which is one that I predicted when Kroll was named to the state’s deer trustee position, is that his team’s final recommendations — if implemented — will be heavily skewed toward the state’s larger landowners (500+ acres) and folks who own small parcels in areas comprised mostly of private land.If you would like to help get the word out to hunters in Wisconsin, Slinkerwink has an ad prepared for Facebook, targeting them, so to speak. The cost is $250 to $875 for a five-day campaign, depending how many people we try to reach. wmspringer has created a website http://savewideerhunting.info/ that the ads will link to. If you would like to chip in a few bucks to help run the ads, wmspringer has created a donation site here. (And kudos to him for jumping through all the hoops at the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board in less than a day.)
It is also my prediction that the final recommendations (again, if implemented) will do little, if anything, to improve deer herds and deer hunting on Wisconsin’s 5.7 million acres of public land.
Where does this leave the public-land hunter? “It will suck to be you,” said one deer manager who asked to remain anonymous out of fear for his job. “The resources and efforts will go toward improving the private land sector. This is all about turning deer hunting away from the Public Land Doctrine and more toward a European-style of management — like they have in Texas.”
For the hunters I know, this would get them to the polls if nothing else would. Charlie Pierce can have the last word:
The only things left the guy hasn't ruined are beer, bratwurst, and bowling. I have to say, if the Democrats can't recall a governor of Wisconsin who breaks unions, wrecks public education, bleeds the state white on jobs and messes around with deer-hunting, they're more hopeless than I thought.
Thanks to Magorn for writing the wake-up call Want to win the WI Recall? Make sure this story goes as wide as humanly possible and to wmspringer for Hunting on Public Lands is Communism. This story is spreading and we need to keep pushing it.