So many incredible experiences

My job as Secretary has opened the door to so many incredible experiences, but none like last year when I was introduced to deer hunting! I was new to deer hunting, but thanks to some great mentors I now proudly consider myself hooked. I’m happy to say that I did get a deer, but even more importantly last year’s gun deer season immersed me in the entire deer hunting experience, from being in deer camp with great friends, to registering and processing my deer, telling my hunting story to all who would listen, and ultimately basking in the satisfaction of cooking and serving the world’s finest venison to my family. It’s an experience that I will never forget, and now I can’t wait for the 2012 season.

Thanks to some exciting new licensing and mentoring opportunities, many of you may be new to deer hunting this year. I encourage you to fully immerse yourself in every aspect of the hunt. I’m sure that your hunting mentor, whoever it may be, will get just as great a thrill from your experience as you will. We are doing all we can to provide great outdoor opportunities to first-time hunters just like you, and I hope you have a hunting experience that has you hooked for life.

Many more of you are old veterans of the hunt. If you’ve been at this game for several years you’ve no doubt seen a lot of changes. Old hunting spots turn into neighborhoods; changes in habitat; growing numbers of people enjoying the fall outdoors; and wildlife diseases that have threatened our deer hunting are just a few of the challenges that have impacted Wisconsin’s deer, deer hunting, and deer hunters. Despite the challenges, the hunting traditions run strong in Wisconsin, and continues to rank among the country’s best deer hunting spots in both numbers and trophy potential.

All of the elements that make deer hunting such a great challenge can also make managing the herd challenging for department staff. Not only do our biologists rely on the data that you provide when you register a deer, but we also rely a great deal on what you tell us about your own deer hunting experiences. This year during the quota and season setting process, we made an unprecedented effort to get input from hunters. Through dozens of local meetings as well as mail-in and on-line surveys, we collected your input and used it to the best of our ability. We heard loud and clear that hunters want to see more deer, and we are accommodating that wish in many units in the north where there is room for the herd to grow. Many farmland units will see great deer hunting opportunities, and again we have set permit levels based on public input. I want to personally thank those of you who took the time to learn more and get involved in Wisconsin’s deer management program. And if you haven’t been involved, we have many ways to get active ranging from simply providing your viewpoints to actually getting out in the field and helping with deer research and data collection.

Get involved, and I promise that you will enjoy our deer resource not just during the hunt, but throughout the entire year.

I hope you are as excited as I am about the upcoming deer seasons. Those of us who
work for the deer resource do it all for you, and we also can’t do it without you. Thank you for being an active participant in our great deer hunting tradition.

Have a great fall!

Cathy Stepp
Secretary Wisconsin DNR

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