Autumn in Wisconsin is marked by three full moons in September, October and November. According to the Farmers Almanac, these moons are named the Harvest Moon, the Hunter Moon, and the Beaver Moon.
The autumnal full moons have been extraordinary this year. September’s full Harvest Moon was brilliant, October’s Full Hunter Moon shone brightly and close to the earth.
Just yesterday, we experienced another extraordinary supermoon. The Full Beaver Moon was named during an era when November was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to guarantee some warm furs for winter.
Get busy like a beaver, says the Full Beaver Moon. Winter is coming.
Another sign of autumn in Wisconsin is the annual deer hunt. We can expect
a large deer herd, since Wisconsin is coming off of two mild winters.
Bow hunters and archers have already started to go after game. Crossbow season is open now.
Currently, the deer kill is running thirteen percent higher compared to last year. The DNR reports that bow hunters have “registered,” also known as killed, 50,000 deer so far this year.
The nine-day gun deer season, which starts November 19, traditionally accounts for the largest part of the deer kill.
Complicating matters is the growing concern of Chronic Wasting Disease, and the inadequate response to this disease by the state of Wisconsin. The DNR designated 43 Wisconsin counties–most of the state in fact– as officially affected by Chronic Wasting Disease.
One of Wisconsin’s greatest champions of conservation, Aldo Leopold, was a hunter, too. I bring this up because it’s easy to write off hunters as non-ethical people. Hunters do have ethics. Some hunters are ethical and some are not.
One example of hunter ethics is the idea of a “fair chase.” The Boone and Crockett Club, North America’s oldest wildlife conservation group, started by President Theodore Roosevelt and others, defines “fair chase” as requiring big game animals to be wild and free ranging while being hunted. It’s also worth pointing out that Aldo Leopold and Teddy Roosevelt saw hunters as stewards of the land.
Some hunters, like the ones from Illinois who pay a pretty penny to go after already captured deers in quote-unquote “shooting preserves,” stray from that tenet of hunting.
What happens in shooting preserves is the opposite of fair chase. People who hunt this way inherently lack sportsmanship.
And hunting has historically been dominated by sportsmen, but that too is changing. Men’s participation in hunting has been going down steadily over the years, while women’s participation is just getting started. From 2001 to 2013, women hunters increased by 85 percent.
Women comprise an increasing number of Wisconsin deer hunters, mirroring a nationwide trend, according to Field and Stream. About 10 percent of the gun tags Wisconsin sold in 2013 went to women. That number is expected to grow by 43 percent by 2030.
And the state is supporting the trend by offering hunting classes and cheap licenses for first-time hunters.
White Women are the changing face of Wisconsin hunting.
Despite the growing numbers of women hunters in Wisconsin, hunting isn’t beloved by everybody. Only ten percent of Wisconsin’s population actually hunts, which is higher than the national average of around five percent.
Most people, it seems, are indifferent to hunting, or find it gross and unsettling. According a 2015 Marist poll, a majority of Americans, 56 percent, oppose hunting animals for sport.
So, Hunting doesn’t win the popular vote–not that it matters, especially not during a full beaver moon.