Deer season opening day tests hunters’ will

Temperatures dipping down to 5 degrees at sunrise and winds gusting to more than 30 mph made for challenging conditions for the opening of the 2013 Wisconsin nine-day gun deer season Saturday.

“The predawn cold and winds made it clear that opening morning was going to test the will of deer hunters today,” noted Tom Hauge, wildlife management director for the Department of Natural Resources, who was hunting near Plain in Sauk County.

“Even our blind did not offer much shelter. Snicker candy bars are frozen solid but still a treat.”

Kurt Thiede, DNR Land Division administrator, reported “even the squirrels were hunkered down today,” near his hunting stand in southeast Richland County. “There were a few distant shots from the ridge tops and valleys but I didn’t hear any shots from our guys. That wasn’t the story everywhere, though, as I headed in to warm up and get some brunch I had a nice buck with an 18-inch wide spread on a tail gate go by.”

“The morning started out nice in the Northwoods,” reported Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist who was aging deer at a registration station in Conover. “We heard about a dozen shots before the wind picked up at 8 a.m.”

He had registered 13 bucks by mid-morning. “There were some nice older bucks, but not big antlers, so it’s obvious that winter had an impact on size.”

Wildlife biologists had expected the heavy snows late last winter and early spring across northern Great Lakes to have an impact on deer mortality and health. Michigan wildlife officials reported that at about halfway through the season the harvest in the Upper Peninsula appeared to be down. Minnesota also experienced a drop, with their wildlife officials there reporting the harvest down 6 percent from 2012.

DNR licensing officials reported 26,690 people took advantage of the reduced first-time licenses, and 33 percent of the resident adult firsttimers were female. Keith Warnke, DNR hunting and shooting sport coordinator, reports efforts to reach out to female hunters appear to be successful, with the number of female hunters aged 10 to 30 increasing by 10 percent this year and overall, females making up 10 percent of all deer license sales.

Total gun deer license sales for 2013 as of Nov. 23 were 615,872, up a little less than 1 percent from 2012.

People can find out more about this year’s Wisconsin deer season by searching for keyword “deer” on the DNR website, or by participating in DNR social media efforts through the DNR Facebook page, Twitter feed and Pinterest sites where they can view photos and stories or post their own to share with other hunters.

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