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Guest columnist: Some changes for the 2014 gun deer hunt
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By Mark Aquino

DNR secretary's director for south-central Wisconsin

FITCHBURG - The clock is winding down to opening day of the 2014 gun deer hunt.

I know I don't have to remind deer hunters out there about that as you've probably been making plans for some time now. The hunt is that special time of year to be with family and friends, to create new stories and relive old ones. It's your tradition and part of our state's culture.

While the excitement and preparation for the hunt haven't changed much over the years, there are some changes in how this year's hunt will be run and we want to be sure you are familiar with them and know where to go if you have any questions.

The changes come from your input on how we can make the season more enjoyable and more convenient with fewer and simpler rules and regulations and fewer big shifts in rules from one season to the next.

We have a number of ways for you to get familiar with the season's rules.

First, there's the Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations pamphlet you probably picked up when you bought your license; it's also available online. There's also a short two-page summary of the 2014 rule changes available on our webpage,; use the keyword "deer." You'll find both publications there under the header, "Tools for your season."

We also have customer service representatives available by toll-free phone at 1-888-936-7463, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. You can even call from your deer stand on opening morning if need be!

And we have our Fish and Wildlife Mobil App for smartphones. It includes links to the regulations and calculates daily hunting hours based on the date and your location. It's a free download available from our webpage

We appreciate your understanding and flexibility during this first year of these new rules. One of the biggest changes for long-time hunters is the move to county-based deer management units and the start of a shift from in-person to phone-in carcass registration. Some of you may already be part of the pilot program we're using this season to work out any bugs in a phone-based system.

So, are you excited - are you ready?

With the new rules and tools you've helped us set up for you it is our sincere hope that the biggest concerns you have over the days leading to the opener are sighting-in your gun, verifying your landowner permissions and checking and packing the gear you'll need.

Good luck, be safe, and above all, have fun.

-Mark Aquino is the DNR secretary's director for

south-central Wisconsin