Feeling the Effects of Online Deer Registration

SHIOCTON, Wisc (WBAY) Businesses traditionally tied to deer hunting say they've taken a big hit because of the state's new deer registration process.

The just completed nine-day gun deer season is second time hunters statewide were required to register their deer online or over the phone, which the DNR touts as more convenient than physical registration sites.

But businesses in one rural community says it's costing them big bucks.

At the River Rail Bar in Shiocton, deer season used to be huge.

"They were the best nine days of the year for us, being in this business here, there was no better nine days," recalls bar owner Dick Wickesberg.

Up until last year, Jack Colwitz would register around 4,000 deer each fall at his convenience store across town.

"A tradition, people were happy, everybody got together, the kids and everything come around, look at the snapshots, it was a big thing," says Colwitz.

But for a second gun deer season in a row, the state's policy mandating that hunters register their deer online or over the phone has left Shiocton without a deer hunting boom.

"It was just nothing, just like night and day," says Colwitz.

"Last year we only saw 2 deer on vehicles, this year we saw none, zero deer on vehicles, none, nobody stops no more, they don't have a purpose to stop anymore, most people when they shoot a deer they go right home, that's it, you don't see them anymore and it's been very devastating to these small communities," adds Wickesberg.

Wickesberg says his deer season business has tumbled nearly 50-percent, while Colwitz has experienced a 75-percent hit.

They also say hunters are starting to grumble about a lost, social tradition.

"And people this year finally started to say well they would like to see it come back," says Colwitz.

"It's unfortunate because that's all part of deer hunting and I know the DNR promotes they want to get back to the old hunting ways and stuff like that but they're taking more and more away every year, I can't see it getting any better, I hope it doesn't get worse, but I just can never see it getting better the way the situation is right now," says Wickesberg.