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Wisconsin Misses Chance to Expand Crossbow Hunting

by Patrick Durkin 19. April 2012 09:03
Patrick Durkin

You might assume the Wisconsin Bowhunters Association slept better in March after the Legislature adjourned without loosening crossbow restrictions for the state’s four-month archery deer season.

Pfft! Not a chance. Just as Ahab hunted his white whale till death, so must WBH chieftains stalk the crossbow to their graves. You’ll never persuade them it’s a divisive waste of time, effort and talent.

What’s more troubling is the Department of Natural Resources dodging efforts to expand crossbow use. DNR spokesmen typically say crossbows are a “social” question hunters must decide themselves, even as the agency struggles to control deer across much of Wisconsin’s southern two-thirds.

Lowering the crossbow age limit to 55 from 65 in Wisconsin would increase participation and stabilize license-buying declines.

If that’s not enough contradiction, many legislators and DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp claim they’re forever exploring ways to recruit and retain hunters, and expand hunting opportunities. That’s great, but most agency-directed efforts require patient, perennial educational programs designed to get youngsters off their PlayStations and into the woods.

As much as we need steady, far-sighted programs, we also need simple regulation changes to create opportunities for current or lapsed hunters. That’s why it’s frustrating to see the DNR and lawmakers forgo proposals to lower the crossbow age from 65 to 55 for archery deer season. Crossbows are only legal during archery season for bowhunters 65 and older, or those with doctor-certified handicaps.

Late archery seasons are a great time to go crossbow hunting.

Talk about missing a chance to please rank-and-file hunter-voters. As Rob Bohmann, chairman of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, told lawmakers in February, they’d hit a home run by lowering the crossbow age to 55.

After all, when the Congress floated the idea as an advisory question in April 2010, voters passed it statewide, 2,014 to 1,767, a 53-47 margin. It also passed in county voting, 42-25 (a 63-37 margin), with five counties tied.

When the DNR took that vote and made it a formal proposal at the April 2011 hearings, the WBH rallied its members, hoping to squash it. Instead, the question passed by a wider margin statewide than in 2010, 2,806-2,198, a 56-44 margin. It also passed by a larger margin in county voting, 55-16 (77-23), with one tie.

Even so, the proposal was MIA in autumn 2011 as the Legislature passed other DNR-backed hunting proposals OK’d at April’s hearings.

The Wisconsin Bowhunters Association spent about $8,000 on lobbyists in 2011, with about half of it fighting against crossbows.

What about the age-55 crossbow plan? Well, the most effective lobbying and deal-making might be the kind that prevents legislation from getting drafted. Maybe we should respect the WBH and its lobbyist, Ronald Kuehn of DeWitt Ross & Stevens SC, for persuading lawmakers to ignore the public’s crossbow wishes.

In 2011, the WBH paid nearly $8,000 for 40 hours of lobbying. Government Accountability Board records show about half that effort targeted crossbows and crossbow-related issues. Again, that’s the WBH’s prerogative and destiny. It’s incapable of any other action, given its petrified attitude toward crossbows.

But if the DNR is serious about boosting hunter numbers and license revenues, it should have opposed the WBH and worked with lawmakers to lower the crossbow age to 55 or 50. Granted, no one knows how much that would boost bowhunting participation, but license sales to bowhunters 65 and older rose steadily once Wisconsin first allowed crossbows in 2003.

The Wisconsin DNR and lawmakers ignored public sentiments that favored lowering the crossbow age from 65 to 55 for archery deer season.

Based on that trend, a DNR analysis projected annual archery-license sales would increase by about 1,700 annually if the age were lowered to 55. That’s no sea change, but it would maintain bowhunter numbers, and give more people access to our longest, most opportunity-rich deer season.

Instead, lawmakers passed a bill in March that merely allows crossbows during gun seasons for deer, bear, elk, turkeys and small game. Earlier, on a 60-35 party-line vote, Assembly Republicans rejected anamendment by Rep. Nick Milroy, D-South Range, to lower the crossbow age to 55 for archery deer season.

Milroy said in an interview March 13 that he hopes to work with the WBH and Conservation Congress next year on a compromise, such as a crossbow-specific season requiring a separate license.

Unfortunately, there’s even less chance of the WBH compromising on crossbows than there is of generating new revenues and hunting opportunities from the gun-season bill awaiting Gov. Walker’s signature., 





Lyme Disease and Tick Prevention

by Josh Fletcher 18. April 2011 11:26
Josh Fletcher

With spring turkey season already here and nicer weather means sportsmen and women spending more time in the outdoors, increases your chance at being bitten by the creepy crawly little critter called the tick. As the temperatures increase so does the tick activity. More ticks mean an increased chance of contracting Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. 

To first understand how to avoid a tick bite and tick prevention we must first understand about ticks and tick activity throughout the year.

The tick that carries Lyme disease is black legged tick, Ixodes scapularis or commonly called the deer tick.  There are three stages in a tick’s life, the larva, nymph, and the adult. Majority of Lyme disease cases are transmitted from the bite of a tick in the nymphal stage. When the tick is in the nymphal stage it is often the size of a pin head. Because they are so small in this stage, being able to feel them crawling on you is often difficult and also ticks in the nymphal stage are usually more active in temperatures cooler than when the adult tick are most active. This means that at cooler temperatures, when you are most likely to be turkey hunting in the spring means that your odds of getting the small nymphal stage tick is best during spring turkey hunting. The adult tick is most active during the warmer temperatures in the spring and through fall. The adult stage in the tick’s life makes them much easier to spot and feel crawling on you.

Unlike what most people believe, ticks cannot jump, fly or fall from above onto you. They do however grab hold of you as you walk by or brush up against tall grass or leaves. Most ticks attach to your lower extremities and work their way up.  Ticks have the tendency to continue crawling generally up until they reach a location that they cannot crawl anymore such as your head or a tight location such as waist bands, sock cuffs, or under arms.

Grassy fields and pine plantations are prime areas for ticks

An interesting fact about ticks is that if a tick that carries Lyme disease bites you there is no risk of disease transmission during the first 24 hours.  Basically the key to prevent contracting Lyme disease is early tick removal. One study showed that if the tick is in you for more than 48 hours the transmission rate of contracting Lyme disease increased to 12.5%, and at 72 hours it is increased to 75%.

 This study shows that to prevent Lyme disease, is to locate the imbedded tick in less than 24 hours. This relates to the hunter and outdoorsman by setting the stage for the importance of tick inspections after every outing in the outdoors. One way of establishing the length of which the tick was imbedded is by looking at its legs. Ticks are harder to remove once their legs are curled under their body while attached to its host’s skin. This often occurs over a longer period of time. If the legs are still spayed out, removal is much easier. There are many tales of secrets to tick removal. Most have been proven not to work or even increase the risk of Lyme disease transmission. Do not smother ticks in gas or Vasoline, and do not kill the tick with a hot match trying to get the tick to back out. To remove an embedded tick simply take a small thin tweezers and grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible. Gently pull the tick strait up away from your skin. Once you remove the tick, check to see if the tick’s mouth parts are attached, you will often see a small piece of white, this is part of your skin if the mouth parts are attached. If the mouth parts are not attached, don’t fear because they will not affect the transmission of contracting Lyme disease. Simply disinfect the area and save the tick for identification and to be presented to a doctor if medical attention required. Then monitor the bite location for any infection. It is also a good idea to be checked several times a year by a doctor for Lyme disease. If Lyme disease is found in the early stages, it can be treated and cured.

 To avoid ticks in the woods, you want the ticks to avoid you. Studies have shown that DEET is not the best tick repellant available. DEET works great for repelling mosquitos and flies, however has little effect on ticks. One study showed that ticks would crawl over a shoe that was soaked in DEET. Ticks may not attach to your skin that is treated with DEET, however would crawl over the treated area until it reaches a location that is not treated. 
 The best tick repellant on the market is not DEET but Permithrin. Permithrin is actually not a repellant but an insecticide. When a tick comes in contact with Permithrin it is killed a short time later. Most sprays or Permithrin treatments on the market are for cloths only. Permithrin is designed to attach to the fibers of clothing and will remain affective for several weeks even after washing. Permithrin is virtually nontoxic to humans. Permithrin is not designed to be used on skin because it will not bond to skin like it does to fabric and also is deactivated by our skin. Tests show that Permithrin is a 100% affective on ticks versus DEET being only 85% to 89% affective. Basically Permithrin is the repellant of choice when hitting the woods this spring for deterring ticks from you.

 Another product on the market for tick repellant is specialized clothing designed to repel ticks. The most popular is a brand of clothing called ElimiTick, designed by Game Hide. This clothing is embedded with a tick repellent that is man-made version of the repellant found in chrysanthemums and can be washed without losing the garments effectiveness at repelling ticks. A good friend of mine bought a pair of ElimiTick pants last year. We were sitting in a ground blind last spring when I picked up a tick that was crawling on me and placed it on his pants to watch the tick’s reaction. I placed the tick at the bottom of his pants, and by the time it reached just below his knee it curled up and fell off. The pants actually killed the tick. Jeremy did not have a single tick on him last spring while wearing these pants by GameHide, needless to say he now has the whole outfit this spring.

 Another great tick tactic is to tuck in every article of clothing you can. If wearing long underwear, tuck them into your socks, tuck your shirt into your waist band, and tuck your pant legs into your boots. Snake boots also serve great tick protection for the hunters who don’t hunt in snake country. They cover high up your leg and lace tight to keep tick from crawling up your pant legs. If you don’t wear snake boots, you may want to consider taping the tops of your hunting boots with camouflage tape to keep ticks from crawling up. And also wearing tight fitting elastic cuffs on your shirt sleeves also help to prevent ticks from crawling in under your cloths.  Once out of the field, store you’re hunting cloths in a plastic bag, tote, or hang them outside. Do not bring cloth into your house that are not properly stored; ticks can crawl off your cloths and into your house.

 To stay safe this spring from Lyme disease and ticks requires a tick prevention system. It starts first with treating all your hunting cloths with Permithrin. Next tuck in all pant legs, sock cuffs, shirt cuffs, and waist lines. Lastly check your self often; a good rule of thumb is to perform a detailed systematic search of yourself for ticks every time you come in from hunting. Early detection and tick prevention is the most important key to keeping you and your family safe from disease carrying ticks this spring.

Categories: Blog | Pro Staff

Longbow Longbeard

by Marshall Kaiser 15. April 2011 10:18
Marshall Kaiser

In the spring 2008, I was committed.  My wife would like to say in more ways than others.  I was committed to using my longbow for the entire turkey season no matter how desperate I got.  So I did my homework, found places to hunt, set up cameras, blinds, did some extra scouting, and purchased leftover tags.  I did everything in my power to hopefully accomplish what I felt was next to impossible.
Several times I set out, but had no luck; I was getting birds on cameras and seeing birds from a distance, but closing the distance was just not possible.  The birds were there-- I just needed to work harder on a plan.  I knew the later seasons would be tougher to hunt the birds, but I was bound and determined to not give up.

While hunting one sunny afternoon I noticed a group of toms strutting amongst themselves a couple hundred yards away in a green field.  The sun lit up the colors on their feathers and made them even more tantalizing.  I was on the other side of a fenceline in a cut corn field.  The landscape was perfect because there were some drainages between the birds and myself.

The fenceline was also made of stone and brush.  This was it.  The cards were in my favor.  I closed the distance to about 75 yards from the birds.  I set up on the fenceline behind some rocks and brush on the cornfield side.  My plan was to make a few soft putts and try to draw the birds down the fenceline past me so I could get a quartering shot at the last one.  I felt this would be my best chance at not being busted.

After a few soft putts, they were on their way, like a bunch of college guys on ladies night at the local club.  Within minutes they were well within bow range and looking for love.  Any one of those birds could have been a trophy.  I didn’t care about the length of beard or spurs; I kept focus on how and when I could pull off a desperation shot.  The neat part was I was trying the Magnus bullheads, so I was curious about how they would work if given the opportunity. 
It was now or never: on one knee I drew back.  I think I hit anchor, focused on the closest bird, and let fly.  I saw a flash of feathers and toms were scattering in all directions-- all but one. He lay piled up approximately 15 yards from me.

After further examination it looked as though the arrow skimmed the back of the bird and caught a good piece of the neck and cut the bird wide open.  It was one of those moments when you look around hoping to see if anyone is there to celebrate with you.  I gave my thanks to my Maker, tagged my bird and headed back to the truck.  I had to be careful with each step so I wouldn’t trip on my smile!

I had just accomplished something I never thought I could do.  I knew I had withdrawn a huge piece of luck from my luck account, but that was ok.  I would find a way to start saving up for the next time I would need to cash in.  I was hooked: this traditional thing was slowly sinking its teeth into my bowhunting nerves, and man did it feel good.  I still refuse to hang up the Mathews Z7, but we all like a new challenge every once in a while-- this was definitely it.




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