WAUSAUKEE - The nights of heated arguments and high emotions in Marinette County are ancient history at the annual Department of Natural Resources Spring Fish & Wildlife Hearing.

Monday's hearing - held in the Wausaukee High School auditorium - drew a relatively sparse crowd of 34 and was over in 40 minutes. It was followed by the Wisconsin Conservation Congress Spring County Conservation Meeting, which lasted about 45 minutes.

One DNR Spring Hearing question regarding overnight placement of portable stands and blinds prompted discussion. The proposal asks whether to favor allowing the unattended, overnight placement of portable stands and blinds on department and managed lands between Sept. 1 and Jan. 31.

Currently, this practice is prohibited on DNR managed lands. The regulation is designed to prevent the "staking out" or making advance claims to hunting locations in favor of a first-come, first-served practice.

Walter Ducaine of Crivitz asked whether this proposal would lead to confrontations.

"He could be in there before you got there even though you've got that DNR number on your stand," Ducaine said. "If you leave the DNR number on it why would anybody else be able to use it?"
Conservation Warden David Oginski, who narrated the DNR portion of the meeting, said ethics would dictate that the right thing to do would be to leave someone else's stand alone. On Marinette County land, hunters are allowed to keep a stand for 21 days, and anyone else can use it.

A Conservation Congress Endangered Resources & Law Enforcement Committee advisory question asked whether to favor removing Wisconsin's requirement of wearing a backtag during the archery and gun deer and bear hunting seasons.

The backtags have proven useful to help identify trespassers, Oginski said. He investigated an incident in which a man stabbed another out in the field, and he was identified by his backtag.

"Private landowners, I would think, would want to keep them," said Tom Davy of Crivitz. "Public land hunters, either-or, I guess."

Another committee question seeks to expand the definition of artificial lights allowed for predator hunting. It currently states that a battery-operated light must be hand-held. The change would allow headlamps and lights mounted to a firearm to help identify potential targets.

A Legislative Committee advisory question asks whether to increase the cost of a non-resident deer license. Other states such as Iowa ($564) and Montana ($570) have much higher non-resident license fees.

"Make these other states think about what they're charging," said Marinette County Conservation Congress member Darriol Sterckx.

Al Hofacker of Athelstane said there's a problem with reciprocity. In Alabama, a non-resident license costs more but includes all types of hunting - not just for deer.

A proposal would allow the statewide hunting and trapping of bobcats. Currently, they can only be hunted north of Highway 64. Bobcat permit applicants are much less successful than years ago, one man said.

"You'd be better off applying for tickets at Lambeau Field," he added.

Mike Kitt of Marinette, a retired Wisconsin DNR conservation warden, presented two resolutions seeking to restore northern pike spearing on Michigan/Wisconsin Boundary Waters, and on select waters in Wisconsin. This practice was outlawed in the late-1980s because of a perception that it was an antiquated law with few participants.

"This is not something we're proposing," Kitt said. "This is something we had and lost."

Kitt said pike spearing is an alternative fishing method with no adverse biological concerns.

Pike spearers typically cut a 2 1/2- by 5-foot hole and mark them with trees, slabs or snow pillars.

Robert LeHew was re-elected to a three-year term as Marinette County Conservation Congress representative. Justin Schaut was unopposed to serve a two-year term.