Businesses in Oconto, Menominee Counties prepare for deer baiting ban


OCONTO COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) – Hunters in Oconto and Menominee Counties have just a few more days to use bait to take aim at deer.

Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced a baiting and feeding ban that would take effect in those two counties on Nov. 1. A state law that requires the ban was triggered with the discovery of chronic wasting disease in a deer raised on a private hunting preserve in Gillett in late September.

Hunters won’t be the only ones impacted by the ban. Businesses will also be affected.

At Mercier’s Fast Stop in Oconto Falls, hunters stop in for a lot more than gas and snacks this time of year.

“The corn and apple corn and the apples, we go through a lot of that,” said Andy Mercier of Mercier’s Fast Shop. “Like the corn itself, we go through a pallet a week. Sometimes during the season, it’s two a week, and the apples too. It’s just nuts, and now it’s all going to be gone.”

“I don’t see why they should do it just because one deer in captivity gets CWD,” said hunter Charlie Zielinski. “A lot of business buy the feed and apples and stuff, and a lot of them are going to be stuck with it.”

Just down the road at Lena Swamp Archery, owner Wade Jeske says the ban will simply force some hunters to alter their approach.

“They’ll come to the sporting good shops, and they’ll buy the grunt calls and call cans and scent,” Jeske said.

Jeske opposes baiting deer, saying it restricts natural deer movement. He believes with the ban in place, hunters will see more deer.

“It’s 18 minutes on a bait pile or 18 hours of browsing,” he said. “You can browse all night. You still got six hours of daylight. You’ve got to move, and that’s what it comes down to.”

Mercier, however, says he’s already hearing a lot of complaints.

“A lot of people are going to be kind of depressed I think because they can’t bait and all that, which will probably save their pocketbook a little bit, but it won’t do my pocketbook any better,” Mercier said.