Open water duck hunting on Castle Rock Lake to be explored

Discussion in 'Frontpage News' started by Wisconsin DNR News, Oct 13, 2010.

  1. DNR West Central Region - NECEDAH - The potential for open water duck hunting on Castle Rock Lake will be discussed at an informational public meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20, at the Necedah Town Hall at ...

  2. Steve

    Steve Staff Member

    News Release Published: October 12, 2010 by the West Central Region

    Contact(s): Kent Van Horn, DNR migratory game bird ecologist, 608-266-8841; Todd Schaller, recreational enf, education and safety section chief, 608-267-2774; Ed Culhane, DNR communications specialist, 715-839-3715

    NECEDAH – The potential for open water duck hunting on Castle Rock Lake will be discussed at an informational public meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20, at the Necedah Town Hall at 101 Center Street, Necedah.

    Staff from the state Department of Natural Resources will outline the citizen-generated proposal to expand duck hunting to the open water areas of large lakes in Wisconsin.

    This is not a public hearing. There is no DNR-proposed rule to allow open water duck hunting on Castle Rock. This is a citizen-generated proposal currently focusing on 13 lakes in Wisconsin larger than 1,000 acres. These lakes were recommended by a special committee of duck hunters, DNR biologists, conservation wardens and representatives of lake associations.

    “The ad hoc committee developed criteria and recommended these lakes from a statewide perspective,” said Kent Van Horn, DNR migratory game bird ecologist. “The purpose of these meetings is to go to the local areas and tell folks that a group of citizens have this idea and now we want to hear from you.”

    Wisconsin has about 80,000 duck hunters. Current regulations allow them to hunt from a boat or a blind in most marshes, from lake edges where there is emergent vegetation to conceal them or from areas where they can stand on the lake bottom. These marsh and near-shore waterfowlers primarily harvest “puddle ducks” such as mallards, wood ducks and blue-winged and green-winged teal.

    Most lake residents don’t notice these hunters, wardens said, and there is little conflict.

    Other ducks migrate through Wisconsin including “diving ducks” such as canvasback, redhead and lesser scaup. There is a small number of hunters in Wisconsin that target these species by hunting from “layout” boats, or other methods, in areas where open-water hunting is allowed. Layout boats ride low on the water – with the hunter in a partially reclined position – so that hunter and boat present a low and non-threatening profile.

    Van Horn estimates less than 10 percent of Wisconsin waterfowl hunters use this technique, generally later in the duck season, in November, when most diving ducks arrive.

    Open water duck hunting is currently limited to the Great Lakes, Lake Winnebago, Green Lake, Petenwell Flowage and some areas of the Mississippi River.

    The idea to expand open water hunting has been moving through regular, long-established channels. In 2006, a citizen submitted the idea during the annual spring rule hearings and Conservation Congress meetings that occur simultaneously in each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. In 2007, the Conservation Congress asked people attending the hearings whether an ad hoc committee should be created to study the proposal, and the question received a positive vote in every county.

    The Natural Resources Board then directed the Conservation Congress and the DNR to form a broad-based group to study the proposal. The state’s fiscal crisis and resulting staff reductions caused delays, but the committee was formed in late 2008 with more than 20 members and completed its work in 2009. The committee developed criteria and evaluated 130 of the largest lakes in Wisconsin. From these it recommended 13, including Castle Rock, for further consideration.

    The committee proposed a 1,000-foot buffer for open water duck hunting, meaning it would have to occur at least that distance from shore.

    The 13 water bodies being considered are lakes Poygan, Koshkonong, Butte des Morts, Wisconsin and Wissota, along with Castle Rock, Beaver Dam, Shawano, Puckaway, Trout, Fence, North Twin and Grindstone lakes. Similar meetings have been scheduled or held near each of these water bodies.