Hunting costs and queries

As November rolls around people begin to dream of turkey and pumpkin pie. For hunters, visions of 30-point bucks dance in their heads as well. Every year, the Wisconsin gun deer season begins on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, which means that in 2015 it began on Nov. 21.

In 2015, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources sold 849,778 archery, crossbow and gun deer licenses and Platteville has its share of hunters as well. A large number of hunters, including student hunters, means hunting impacts the community both economically and environmentally.

The UW-Platteville Sportsmen’s Club has 48 paid members, according to club president Dietric De Jager, and “everyone hunts.” Hunting is not cheap, however. In Wisconsin, adult returning hunters pay $24 for a gun, archery or crossbow deer license and that doesn’t include the cost of ammunition and gear. De Jager said he spent between $800 and $1000 on hunting last season alone.

The Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937, also known as the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, ensures that some money goes back to conservation efforts. Money from sales of fishing and hunting licenses are eligible to be used only for wildlife restoration activities and hunter education, according to a Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau document concerning Deer Management Initiatives.

A DNR publication called “Wisconsin’ Deer Management Program” states that the DNR sets goals for managing the deer population based on biological carrying capacity—how many deer can survive on the land—and on social carrying capacity, which is how many deer people will tolerate. The goals determine how many deer are recommended to be “harvested.” In 2014 the Wisconsin DNR reported that 469,555 were harvested.

For De Jager, hunting is also about the enjoyment and the community. The money invested is not as important and club members help each other out. For instance, when one of the club officers had back surgery, De Jager said he and a friend helped him chop wood for his wood burner.

“I’ve put quite a bit of money into [hunting] but I enjoy what I do, so money [doesn’t matter] if I keep enjoying what I do,” De Jager said.

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