Good early conditions for opening day deer season turn to rain and snow
Published: November 19, 2011 by the Central Office
Contact(s): Bill Cosh, DNR spokesperson (608) 267-2773, Laurel Steffes, DNR office of communications (608) 266-8109 or Bob Manwell, DNR deputy spokesperson (608) 264-9248
MADISON - Hunters across Wisconsin were greeted by generally good hunting conditions on the first morning of the 160th gun deer hunt. Happy hunters, young and old, were bringing in a steady stream of bucks and does throughout the morning and early afternoon until wet sloppy precipitation spread into most of the north and central areas, slowing registrations.
According to hunters across the state, the rut is still on, deer are moving, hunters were seeing deer and with colder overnight temperatures expected in many areas, hunters might find nearly ideal conditions again on Sunday morning including fresh snow.
Wisconsin's mentored hunting law again proved popular as many youngsters arrived at registration stations with their first deer....and a beaming mom or dad.
Alex Mickelson, first time hunter with his buck.
Other first time hunters included seventeen-year-old Alex Mickelson who told his folks he thought he was interested in trying hunting, so he took a hunter safety course in February with a couple buddies. Out hunting in the Sturgeon Bay area, he took a beautiful buck by 7:30 opening morning and sent a phone shot to his very proud mother. "He's a deer hunter for life," she said.
Even youngsters who simply accompanied parents and grandparents into the woods found excitement. In Rhinelander, an area grandmother took her young granddaughter, who was visiting from Australia, out with her. The grandmother bagged an 11-point buck and the granddaughter was so excited she insisted grandma and grandpa leave the truck's tailgate down as they drove away from the registration station so that everyone could see "grandma's deer."
By midnight Friday, 603,913 licenses had been sold. At peak, Friday licenses sales were running at a rate of 220 per minute with 99, 988 licenses sold on Friday as hunters made their traditional "Friday before the opener" license purchase.
It was a safe opening day also with no known hunting incidents reported as of 3 p.m.
No shooting incidents reported opening day
MADISON -- There were no shooting incidents reported by mid-afternoon (4 p.m.) on opening day. Enforcement Administrator Tim Lawhern said DNR's goal always is to have a safe season.
Lawhern reminds hunters that the vast majority of hunting incidents can be avoided if hunters remember and observe the four basic rules of firearm safety - represented by TAB-K:
- Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
- Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
- Be certain of your target and what's beyond.
- Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot.
DNR is featuring a TAB-K refresher video on its new YouTube channel at: www.youtube.com/user/WIDNRTV.
"It's 75 seconds of video that could save your life - or the life of someone in your hunting party. Please take a moment and watch. You just can't stress or review safety rules too much.
"We all look forward to the deer season for months. Let's make great memories. Good luck and safe hunting to all," he said.
License sales set record for the day before deer season
MADISON - Maybe they were keeping an eye on the weather or maybe they were caught up in the excitement of Wisconsin's 160-year deer hunting tradition, but hunters set an all-time record Friday for buying licenses the day before the 9-day deer gun season. Department of Natural Resources Customer Service and Licensing Director Diane Brookbank said 99,988 hunters bought their licenses Friday, peaking out at 220 licenses sold every minute around dinner time.
At midnight Friday, 603,913 licenses had been sold, about 4,000 less than 2010. However, deer license sales continue throughout the season so the total for 2011 is expected yet to rise.
"We're just as excited as you are about deer gun season. Our license agents and customer service reps are having a ball talking with hunters. And there's still time for people to get a license and get out there," said Brookbank. "We have more than 1,300 license agents statewide geared up to serve you."
Some facts about Wisconsin hunters:
- There were 53,914 females this year, an increase of 1,486 from 2010. They comprise 9 percent of all hunters.
- Deer hunters hail from all 50 states. 571,491 of hunters are Wisconsinites, with Minnesota (16,058) and Illinois (7,737) the next highest. And hunters love Wisconsin's deer hunt so much that 209 came all the way from Alaska and 12 came all the way from Hawaii to participate.
- Nearly 30,000 hunters are 70 and older, and of them, about 2.6 percent are women. In contrast, 103,151 hunters were 20 or younger, and more than 18 percent were girls.
- There were 71 customers from foreign counties, with the most hunters coming from Canada, 17; Germany, 9; and Mexico and Norway, each with 5.
- Internet sales topped hunter preferences on where to get a gun deer license. Top selling over-the-counter locations were Mills Fleet Farm in Appleton, Green Bay, Germantown, Stevens Point and Wausau, with more than 137,000 licenses sold from Fleet Farms in the Fox River Valley.
It's an electronic world
Calls to the Department of Natural Resources customer call center during the week prior to opening day were up over 12 percent compared to 2010, including an all time high of 4,030 calls on Friday. This includes 823 calls that were received after 4:30 pm on the day before the 9-day opener. The on-line chat feature also continues to increase is popularity, up over 43 percent from last year during the week prior to opening day.
During the first couple hours on opening Saturday, the call center received a variety of calls - some on cell phones from deer stands. Questions included clarification of which tags to use - usually from a happy caller.
The call center can get some interesting calls. Earlier in the week a bow hunter called asking if it was legal for him to shoot at skunks with his bow. He was calling from his tree stand right around closing hours and wanted to get down but there were three skunks below him (that he wasn't able to scare off) and he didn't want to get sprayed.
Another gentleman called our hotline to complain that his neighbor had just put up a tree stand that looks directly into his bathroom -- the caller said that even if it is legal to have the tree stand at that location, "It will be a visually unpleasant experience for everyone."
Loretta, 73, of the Spooner area looked up DNR's number and called. She was concerned about reg changes, which, she noted, were not in the book. She got her answers: Yes, if she wears orange, she can bow hunt during gun season, but no switching of tags. No, she can't hunt from her car. She said her husband doesn't hunt anymore, and doesn't want her to go out alone, so she's going with her son. She said if he wants a doe, he can go for it, but she will wait for a buck.
DNR's expanded hours call center - unique among state natural resources agencies -- is on pace to receive more than 370,000 contacts this year, with more than 20 percent of these coming during nights and weekends. The call center's motto is "We're here for you!" Give them a call.
The call center is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days per week, and can be reached in three convenient ways:
- By phone: Call Toll-Free 1-888-WDNR INFo (1-888-936-7463)
- By email: email@example.com; and
- Internet chat available: Contact Us].
Hunters love the service
Comments offered this week include:
- "Your extended (call center) hours is great. Minnesota could learn a lot from you, keep up the great work!!!"
- "Thanks for all your help this morning! The people on the chat are always awesome. It seems like the DNR usually gets a bad rap but I think you're great. Keep up the good work! I'll "like" you on Facebook the next time I'm on and do what I can to promote your work. Thanks again."
- "That [chat] worked well - efficient compared to some places that I'd called and wait 15 minutes to 'speak with an agent'. Good system!"
- "Sincerely though. Best DNR experience I have ever had and I have hunted in many states. If you have a boss, forward this message." [Editor's note - we did!]
Connect with DNR through social media
MADISON -- Just days ago, the DNR launched its Facebook page, YouTube Channel and Twitter.
"We're on social media just in time for people to share their photos and stories from the field," said Communications Director Laurel Steffes.
"Throughout deer season we'll post updates and invite hunters to do the same."
Connect with DNR social media at:
Regional reports from DNR Staff around Wisconsin
Langlade County - DNR wildlife biologist Eric Borchert was in Antigo Saturday morning and said the first buck of the season came in at 8 a.m. Registrations were moving steadily with usually at least one truck with a deer in the parking lot throughout the morning. He reported talking to several parent-child mentored hunter pairs coming in. Temperatures started out "seasonable with a little overnight frost," he said, but that "it was starting to rain a bit" by 1:30 p.m. "There were the usual number of 1.5 year-old bucks and a real beauty, a 10-pointer weighing 180 pounds field dressed." Most hunters said deer were moving and were pleased with what they were seeing. Some north facing slopes were still holding snow from a week earlier.
Lincoln County -- Rick Wiede, Lincoln and Langlade County biologist, reported registering about 70 bucks by 2 p.m. when things started to slow a bit, probably due to a rain/sleet/snow mix that started in early afternoon. "Conditions couldn't have been better in the early going today," he said. "It was about 30 degrees and calm; hunters were saying they could hear deer coming." There was steady and consistent shooting throughout the morning and he was expecting registration to pick up in late afternoon as hunters head in from the fields. He also was seeing does coming in as units around his station in Tomahawk had an antlerless quota after some buck only seasons. Overall, hunters he talked to seemed pleased.
Oneida County - DNR wildlife biologist Eric Kroening said he was seeing a "pretty steady stream of deer" coming into his Minocqua registration station and he had registered roughly 30 by 1 p.m. Hunters he'd talked to said they were seeing rutting behavior with bucks actively pursuing does. He was registering deer coming in from buck only and buck plus quota units. "Hunters bringing in does from the quota units are buying second tags and heading back out," Kroening said. He'd also registered six to eight "first deer" for kids hunting with their parents. Starting about noon, he said, a mix of precipitation started and it was picking up. But the forecast showed colder temps also coming which could mean fresh snow for Sunday.
Polk County - A half dozen pickup trucks sat with their tail gates down as grinning men in blaze orange milled about the Lake Magnor Store registration station swapping stories about their successful hunts. "I'm happy," said Brad Scharfenorth, 37, of Elkhorn, lifting the head of a 9-point buck so members of his hunting party could take photos. "Conditions were very nice, nearly perfect this morning." Scharfenorth, his dad and several family members annually hunt the area around Lake Gilbert.
Price County - Pat Beringer, working the Catawba Farm Supply station said the morning started out overcast and dark so visibility was not so good until around mid morning when things got a little brighter. It started snowing around 12:30 and was beginning to stick in parking lots and fields. Pat had a father-daughter pair come in and the daughter registered her first deer, an 8-pointer. Beth Blicharz, DNR wildlife technician stationed at Ball Amoco in Phillips had registered 60 to 70 deer by 2 p.m. saying things had "been steady, similar to last year" and that hunters coming in late morning to early afternoon were reporting seeing more deer than earlier hunters, probably due to a snow that started falling improving sightability. "There are a lot of cabins in this area," she said, "I expect tomorrow we'll see folks with those cabins bringing in deer shot today. They'll probably hang them overnight and come in out of the weather." She said most hunters appeared to sitting on stands and that several hunters she talked to reported seeing and hearing signs that rutting was still in progress. "Several said they were hearing grunting and both seeing and hearing chasing behavior."
Rusk County -- Chris Cold, DNR wildlife biologist registering and aging deer at the Express Mart in Bruce reported that a wet snow had started falling by about 1 p.m. Nothing was sticking but things were beginning to get a little sloppy. Still, he said hunters coming in were in good spirits and reported they were seeing deer. Chris had already registered some nice bucks and even the spikes that were coming in he said were, "well muscled and healthy looking for their age." A lot of the early deer were being shot by kids out hunting with their parents, "It appears that the kids are being given the first chance to shoot and I think the dads are as proud as the kids."
Sawyer County - Ken Jonas, area wildlife supervisor, was at Hayward and reported that wet snow seemed to be a factor in slow registrations as of 3 p.m. "It was really gray this morning, and with pending snow, that might have hampered early deer movement. There was not a lot of shooting where I was...I think it will be really good for tomorrow. It's supposed to get down to 14 to 19 overnight. With some new snow on the ground and colder temperatures, the deer will be moving and that should lead to higher success rates in hunting." DNR elk biologist Laine Stowell in Winter said the day started out dry and calm but that it was snowing by late morning. "Hunters in this area were fortunate to have dodged the rain folks are reporting elsewhere," said Stowell over the phone. "hunters seem happy and said they are seeing deer and rutting." At that point Stowell had to hang up as a couple of hunters rolled into his station with deer to register.
Mark Bruce, 57, of Shell Lake who bagged an 8-point buck. He registered at the Cenex station in Shell Lake.
Taylor County - Mike Bulgrin, DNR wildlife technician working in Medford said early rain was turning to snow by 2:30 p.m. He'd aged 19 does including an 8-yr-old and 35 bucks by that time, and registered around 100. He reported that one truck came in with eight deer and that the rest of that hunting party were still in the woods.
Washburn County - Mark Bruce, 57, of Shell Lake, got his buck in the southwest corner of about 7:30 a.m. "Conditions were good. It was a very pleasant hunt," he said at the registration station in Shell Lake.
Door County - Seventeen-year-old Alex Mickelson told his folks he thought he was interested in trying hunting, so he took a hunter safety course in February with a couple buddies. Out hunting in the Sturgeon Bay area, he took a beautiful buck by 7:30 opening morning and sent a phone shot to his very proud mother. "He's a deer hunter for life," she said. DNR wildlife technician Kyle Christenson working in Egg Harbor reported the day started off a little bit cold and windy. It has warmed up a bit and is 100 percent overcast grey and cloudy. We started out with a nice stream of deer. "We are up to about 40 animals at this point - 99 percent of them are bucks." Christenson said two guys came in, rather excited, and one of them admitted "I'm from the city. Here is deer number one and deer number two that I have ever shot." He had pulled out his I-phone to take a picture of the first deer he shot to post it on his Facebook page and to text his buddies letting them know that he got his first deer ever. When as he raised the phone to capture the picture of the deer he just shot along comes a buck. It was coming out of the woods in half stride. The guy quickly put his phone down, grabbed his gun and shot the buck. At Sturgeon Bay, DNR wildlife technician James Harbaugh reported activity at Pottawatomi State Park is definitely not the same as last year. A lot less hunters in there and fewer deer coming out of there. It seems to be a lot of 2 and 3 year old deer. That is typical for the weekend. There was one mentored hunter, a 10 year old that got a deer. Door County has a lot of big deer.
Fond du Lac County - Dale Katsma, DNR wildlife supervisor working at Dundee reported, "It's been pretty good here. We're right in the middle of the Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest so we get a lot of people here who are hunting on public land. We are up over 50 deer registered so far. It seems to be a bit slower than last year, but that may be because the weather is so nice people are staying in the woods longer. We've seen some nice deer brought in. About half of the bucks brought in have been 2 years or older, so there are some nice bucks. People are bringing in their kids with them. Some are not even old enough to hunt but are along with them, which is nice to see." One hunter brought in a big 3-year-old buck that he got right behind his house about 10 minutes after he went out and he had his two sons with him. Rick Dretikson, had a 12 point buck he brought in with a doe. The doe came through first, and about 10 minutes later the buck came through on the same trail.
Green Lake County - Jeff Lang, DNR wildlife technician working in Markesan reported that he has worked the same station for many years. "It seems like a typical deer season. Lots of large antlered bucks." The area is prime deer habitat with a lot of agriculture. The numbers have been steady. It was starting to rain in the mid afternoon. Three different deer were brought in by young hunters, very proud of their first deer. "It was just a very exciting time. They were very excited. I told them how they were contributing to Wisconsin's deer herd management by letting us age their deer. I told them just the fact that they were bringing their deer in for registration is part of the herd management system that Wisconsin does."
12-year-old Taylor Zipperer landed his first deer while out hunting with his brother in Manitowoc County
Dick Waneka shot this deer at Point Beach in Manitowoc County about 7:45 Saturday morning. He says he didn't know it still hadn't shed its velvet when he took his shot.
Manitowoc County - A steady stream of hunters brought in numerous bucks at a Manitowoc registration station that normally sees a slower morning, according to Jeff Pritzl, DNR wildlife biologist. By noon the station registered 33 bucks and 13 does. Temperatures in Manitowoc County ranged from the mid 30s to lower 40s with overcast skies, but no snow or rain as of early afternoon. First-time female hunter Olivia Geigel came into the registration station with the first deer she ever shot and killed. This was her first year out and she saw her buck in Francis Creek after her first hour hunting on a tree farm property. She said the farm's owner had seen this buck earlier on a trail cam. First time hunter Taylor Zipperer, 12, landed his first deer while out hunting with his brother in Manitowoc County. Taylor went through hunter education class and was sitting some distance away from his brother when the deer came in sight. "I just breathed in and out and pulled the trigger," said Zipperer. "It was an incredible experience...I was so nervous."
Kewaunee County - Hunters in Luxemburg reported conditions in the field improving as the day wore on. Deer were reportedly on the move around noon. The county saw a consistent light rain in an area which has seen a lot of rain in recent weeks, making for muddy conditions in the field
Marinette County -- Chief Conservation Warden Randy Stark who was working in the Marinette County area reported that late in the morning the temperature was in the 40s with cloudy skies, no rain and no wind. He said hunters he'd talked to reported the rut was still going and most hunters appeared content to sit on their stands for now. Dave Halfmann, DNR wildlife biologist working in Pembine, reported everything was pretty normal. Deer were coming in comparable to last year. More does than last year, just because there are doe permits available. There were some last year. Equal numbers of antlered and antlerless deer. Hunters are seeing more deer than last year. I have seen a number of first time hunters who have been successful. That is always good to see.
Oconto County - John Huff, DNR wildlife biologist working at Crivitz, reported it had been a pretty good morning opener, with nothing incredibly unusual. Weather was still okay. The precipitation had still held off by mid afternoon. Registrations were a little ahead of last year, and he was seeing a fair number big deer coming in. "Things seem to be going pretty well. Hunters seem fairly happy. We are still in a little bit of the rut. A lot of the hunters who came in reported seeing does being chased by bucks." Wardens had to deal with one road kill bear in Oconto County south of Coleman. The wardens picked it up. So there were some bears running around. At Oconto Falls, DNR wildlife technician James Robaidek reported a light rain started falling mid afternoon. "It has been a wonderful opening day. I've had media through here all day. One thing that I have really noticed is the number of young people with deer. It has been a wonderful thing to see the young ladies and young gentlemen with mom and dad who get to sit with them and spend time with them and get their first deer." It was an incredibly slow morning, but it was probably because the weather was so perfect that hunters were staying in the woods. It has been good until right now. Many hunters were going out for their evening sit. At Abrams it was raining by mid afternoon. Some really nice bucks had been registered, including some 10 pointers. There had been one buck brought in that still had velvet on its antlers.
Sheboygan County - Ed Eilert, DNR wildlife technician working in Sheboygan reported the weather had been cloudy and overcast all day with a southwest breeze. Temperatures have been in the 40s all day. Kills here seem to be a little slow. Registration totals were at about 26 deer by mid day. "Our biggest buck that has come in so far is a road kill killed on Hwy. 23 by a pickup truck. The Sheboygan Press reporter was here at the time." There was one group of Hmong hunters who had gone up to Manitowoc County to hunt and had harvested one yearling buck and six antlerless deer. They brought them all in on one truck.
Kenosha County - DNR wildlife biologist Marty Johnson had registered 35 deer by mid afternoon at Paddock Lake. Talking to the station owner, last year they registered something like 25 to 30 deer total on opening day, so it was definitely up. "We got several nice size bucks, 10 pointer, 11 pointer, one 12 or 13 point buck. The majority of them have been bucks." Weather conditions were overcast, in the 40s, light drizzle, not too bad. The hunters have been in pretty good mood. "Everyone that we have run into so far has really liked the change where the first deer can be a buck. It looks like a lot of people took advantage of that. The majority of deer, probably 90 percent of them, were bucks. We also had a young man who got his first deer and it was a buck. He was happy too! Overall everybody's pretty happy with the situation down in this neck of the woods."
Walworth County - DNR Wildlife Technician Molly Groth said things at her Delevan registration station were pretty comparable to last year. She was aging deer at the station and said most were 1 1/2 to 2 1/2-year-old bucks. Registrations were steady in the morning when hunting conditions were pretty good - cold and dry. A drizzle started after lunch. She noted that a couple hunters had their bucks five minutes after shooting hours started, "probably the product of good scouting," she said.
Washington County - Wildlife Technician Angie Rusch said Hartford registration station numbers "are definitely up from last year. Last year at 2 p.m. we registered 17 deer, this year we doubled that and are at 34 deer." She noted 99 percent of the people are reporting lots of gun shots and seeing lots of deer. "Happy hunters."
Waukesha County - Wildlife Biologist Tom Isaac headed out hunting early with his son and then reported to work to age deer at Hartland. He said activity at the station had been more brisk in the morning when conditions were about 39 degrees, a light south wind and dry - so you could hear the deer and squirrels walking around. But drizzle started at 1:30 and by 2:30 was approaching a steady rain, so we thought hunters would be headed in soon. He noted he had aged one really nice buck - 20-inch inside spread and 11 points. It was 5-years-old - the oldest deer he had seen today. He also noted some successful young hunters - a 12-year-old girl, a 13-year-old boy and a 15- or 16-year-old boy, all on first hunts and registering deer.
South Central Region
Crawford County -- Conservation wardens reported hearing a lot of shooting on both public and private land. At lunch time, hunting conditions were "nice," with a light wind, overcast but still good visibility, and a very light misty drizzle was starting. Deer in the area appear to be in full rut yet. Shannon Baures at Greener's Corners in Seneca reported that as of about 2 p.m., 28 bucks and 24 does had been registered. She said that was a little bit higher than last year. "We've had some kids coming in all excited because they got their first deer. We also had a few bucks that were nice. Northing monster, but some nice ones, 10-or 12- bucks." She said hunters are "all hyped today. It's the first day. They are all excited." However, some people were coming in saying they aren't seeing much.
Dane County -- Kevin Wallenfang, DNR's new deer, bear and elk biologist was out with family in southwest Dane County. He reported around noon that it was a pretty nice morning and hunters glad it wasn't raining yet. "Our group has seen lots of deer this morning and has shot two nice bucks. I have only seen a few deer myself but my dad has seen 18. Even at age 77 and after having a stroke a few years ago he still has the enthusiasm to hold out for a buck the first day! The neighbors have also shot two deer. One is a small buck taken by a 14-year-old and the other a doe taken by a first time hunter! So they too are having a great day!"
Iowa County - Wildlife Biologist Travis Anderson, stationed out of Dodgeville, was taking CWD samples at Barneveld. "A lotta' big bucks coming inóbig deer, almost entirely bucks," he said of the day's trend. "It's been steady, but for this station, it will really pick up around 5 p.m.; it always does." He said opening conditions were overcast, windy and with a light rain that started about 11 a.m. "Still raining a little now," he said at 2 p.m." Anderson had an experience few DNR staffers get, registering the boss's first deer. DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp registered a doe early in the day, "and she was beaming from ear to ear." He said a 13-year-old he talked to also was grinning, he got a huge 12-point buck on his first hunt. Barneveld is on the south side of the western core CWD area, so samples were being taken. He said hunter cooperation was great, "They're more than happy to let us take samples."
Richland County --Kurt Thiede, DNR wildlife, parks, endangered resources and real estate administrator and a lifelong hunter was out on opening morning. He reported it was a little breezy on the ridge tops in eastern Richland County, "but conditions are great. It is overcast and about 42 degrees, most importantly, no rain. Deer appear to be on the move this morning. A number of sightings and a number of shots coming from the surrounding landscape. A large and vociferous flock of geese were passing above to the north of me. What a great morning to be in the woods of Wisconsin; by the way, I took a shot at a nice buck -- he didn't go far." Thiede had talked to a couple hunters -- a father and son - who had each shot a young buck, and each of the bucks were chasing does. They reported a lot more shooting this year than last. By early afternoon it was starting to mist in southern Wisconsin.
Rock County - Brian Laughlin, DNR wildlife technician, said deer coming into the Wisconsin Dells JR Express registration station were healthy and roughly half bucks and half antlerless. They averaged about 2 years old. He said hunting conditions, "aren't too bad, a little windy, nice and cool and cloudy, and just a sprinkle of rain." He saw some happy fathers coming with sons with their first deer. But his favorite story was a woman who was "just ecstatic." She hadn't gotten a deer since she was 16 years old, and now, at 39, got a buck. "She said he came walking down and road and she dropped him in his tracks." He noted that everyone seemed happy, and on the way to work the parking lots at the public hunting grounds he passed were full. "Makes me proud we are providing good habitat and places for hunters," he said.
Sauk County - DNR Wildlife Technician Julie Widholm taking CWD samples at the Baraboo Gander Mountain said hunting conditions were cloudy and in the 40s, and a light rain started just after lunch, but that hunters seemed happy and reported seeing deer. She noted large healthy bucks with big racks coming in, including two 10 pointers. A couple hunters volunteered that they hadn't seen anything for a couple years, but this year had their buck. Widholm also registered at deer for a local 11-year-old mentored hunter who was out for the first time and got a buck. CWD samples were voluntary at the station, but Widholm said that unless hunters were planning a big mount, they were more than happy to give samples. "They've been really nice and polite," she said.
West Central Region
Adams County - Tim Weiss, information manager for bureau of wildlife management, Madison, was at the Corner Pump in Springville, reported hearing few gunshots and slow traffic at the deer registration station through 1 p.m. "The hunters are happy campers. They're seeing deer and they're shooting bucks." Weiss said they were getting a fair number of 2- to 3-year trophy class bucks with nice-sized antlers. "We're not seeing many does or fawns. People are holding off on antlerless deer. They are looking to see more deer in the woods next year. I've talked to people, and they said, 'Oh yeah, we saw a lot of deer.' Are you shooting does? 'No, we're not.'" Some of the does that were taken were big, indicating a fair number of older does in the woods. Weiss reported temperatures were relatively mild; in the 40s; overcast and misting. "All in all, it's very tolerable in the woods. Nobody's freezing to death, nobody's getting drenched. It's cool enough for people who got deer this morning, happy enough to hang their deer, go back out and hunt, and come into the registration station later." In Friendship, Jon Robaidek, DNR wildlife biologist for Adams and Juneau counties, reported a steady stream of hunters from 10 a.m. to noon. "Many of the hunters are reporting hearing a lot more shooting going on and others are saying they are not hearing much. We had a bit of mist at noon. It's stopped currently, which means rain is starting to show up, but hasn't chased people out of the woods." He took a picture of youngster who got his first deer, Frank Murray Jr. "It's his fifth year hunting and he got his first deer. He was really proud of his shot. The deer went right down. It was a buck fawn. His father was with him. They are relatively new to the state. His father has yet to get a deer in Wisconsin so he was proud of his son."
Buffalo County - Gary Wolf, wildlife technician, working at Mondovi reported seeing bucks and does of varying ages coming through the registration table by 2 p.m. "It's been steady but not overly taxing. We're seeing some really nice bucks. There was a 16 point buck that came in, lots of sticker points, character. They've got quite a crowd around it. We had several hunters who got their first deer, some does and some bucks, but everyone was really happy and glad to get their first animal." DNR staff were doing disease surveillance at the registration station in addition to aging deer and had collected lymph nodes from half a dozen deer.
Jackie Green, 10, with her first deer, a 3-year-old doe.
Clark County - Jackie Green, 10, was hunting with her dad, Mike. They were in the open, sitting against a tree. "Then the doe came out and my dad gave me the gun and I shot it," she reported.with her first deer, a 3-year-old doe.
Dunn County - Jess Carstens, DNR wildlife biologist for Dunn and Pepin counties was in Colfax, right on the unit line between 22 A and 59 B. The station has registered probably about 70 to 75 deer by 2 p.m. "Slightly more bucks than does at this point. Probably 45 and 30 so does or antlerless." Usually at this point of the day, they tend to see a slightly higher number of bucks. "It's opening day and people are being a bit more selective; perhaps not necessarily shooting the first thing they see. By tomorrow, the pendulum is likely to swing, and we'll see 20 to 25 percent higher antlerless," he says. It started to snow in mid afternoon, with snow sticking to the grass, so cold weather and white ground could make for excellent hunting Sunday.
Eau Claire County - Conditions were excellent for the opener in the morning -- cool and crisp. But they turned not so good by mid afternoon. A light rain late morning turned into a steady soaking downpour, driving some hunters from the field empty handed. One group from Milwaukee said they'd be back tomorrow morning when conditions will be better.
Kim Fostvedt, Altoona, hunting in Jackson County with a nice 8-point buck.
Marathon County - Cortney Schaefer, DNR wildlife biologist, was stationed at Stratford, aging deer. Nice, warmer weather in the morning brought a lot of hunters in. "We were swamped for a while there, so we were rushing from deer to deer. It slowed down quite a bit since it started drizzling and switching back and forth between rain and snow. " Schaefer reported seeing quite a variety of deer, a pretty even number of antlerless versus antlered deer. There were a handful of really nice bucks, and nice does. How to tell the difference? "The really nice ones are the ones I didn't get to cut open because they're definitely getting mounted." There were a few 10-point bucks, an 11, with around 20 inch spreads. An 11-year-old mentored hunter, a boy, shot a nice deer, a 6 point. "He was really excited. He went out with his dad and his sister. They were out in a stand, he saw it walk by and was able to get it. He did hunt as a 10-year old and didn't get a deer so he was really happy."