Wisconsin elk hunter who won tag raffle faces charges

The winner of a raffle to award one of just 11 coveted elk hunting tags in Wisconsin’s first controlled elk hunt in modern history now faces charges that he shot across a road to kill his bull.

Joe Wiltzius, 73, won the tag in a raffle sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. He was charged last month with discharging a firearm from across a roadway in Sawyer County court, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said he shot the 5-by-5 bull elk Oct. 15 as it stood on Forest Road 174 — a 25-foot-wide gravel road — in Round Lake Township.

He also was charged with shooting within 50 feet of the center line of a roadway. He also could face a civil penalty of $2,000, the value placed on the elk. The DNR has confiscated the antlers and hide, and likely will donate the meat, now at a processor, if Wiltzius is convicted.

He was hunting with a guide and a friend, and the guide faces possible loss of his guide license.

Although the alleged poaching incident has left a black mark on the overall success of the elk reintroduction program, DNR chief warden Todd Schaller said one hunter’s actions are not representative of hunters as a whole.

In 1995, the DNR re-introduced 25 elk to the Clam Lake area and that herd exceeded 200 elk this year, which allowed for a limited hunt. Five members of American Indian tribes have harvested five elk this year, and the remaining four non-Indian hunters have not yet bagged an elk. The season continues through Nov. 11, then reopens Dec. 13-21.

There was about $400,000 generated for elk management through sale of 38,000 hunting applications and $13,000 in donations. Just four non-Indian hunters were drawn for tags in a DNR lottery, while the fifth was given to the RMEF for its raffle.

New mobile app helps hunters

A new Hunt Wild Wisconsin app for smartphones is now available — and it’s free.

“This is something our staff has worked extremely hard to roll out for fall hunting seasons. I think people are going to love using this app,” Wisconsin DNR secretary Dan Meyer said in a press release.

The app, available at both the iTunes app store and Google Play, also has podcasts, mobile mapping, current shooting hours and more.

Just search for “Hunt Wild Wisconsin” at your phone’s app store and give it a try. It is designed for Android versions 8.0 and above, so those with Androids using version 7.0 may not have access to some mapping abilities.

Videos, podcasts offer tips

There’s a great series of tips and hunting forecasts as close as your computer or smartphone.

Wild Wisconsin, created by the DNR with additional sponsorship by Wisconsin-based Vortex Optics and Mayville Engineering Co., features staff biologists and others discussing prospects for the deer season, venison recipes, field dressing, public lands, reading the landscape, firearms and treestand safety and Chronic Wasting Disease.

There’s also a podcast called “Wild Wisconsin: Off the Record.” You can find the links and details by using the keywords “Wild Wisconsin” at the DNR website or read more here: dnr.wi.gov/news/Weekly/article/?id=4390.

Ross Bielema is a freelance writer from New London and owner of Wolf River Concealed Carry LLC. Contact him at Ross@wolfriverccw.com.