Cold, wind greet deer hunters on opening day
616,000 gun deer licenses sold for 2013
Wisconsin deer hunters had to deal with chill and wind for the opening day of the state's nine-day gun deer season.
Tom Hauge, wildlife management director for the Department of Natural Resources, says even his blind in Sauk County didn't offer much shelter Saturday for the predawn cold and winds.
According to the National Weather Service, highs across Wisconsin were only expected in the teens and 20s Saturday.
According to the DNR, nearly 616,000 gun deer licenses were sold for 2013, up a little less than 1 percent from 2012.
Many of the hunters who braved Saturday's cold weather said they saw a fair amount of deer but fewer hunters than in the past.
"Didn't stay warm," said Kyle Frisch of Saturday's hunt. "There was no chance of staying warm."
Though frigid, Kyle and his family got an early start and spent about eight hours in the woods.
Most of his group was rewarded for their fortitude by bagging a buck.
Not many hunters were as brave. For example, the DNR station in Barneveld is typically one of the state agency's busiest locations.
But by early Saturday evening, hunters had only brought in about 100 deer.
"I think because of the cold weather, it's keeping a few folks out of the woods this year," said Tim Marien, Wisconsin DNR wildlife health biologist.
Marien says harvest totals should go up as the weather gets warmer.
"We're right at about 105 deer which is down," said Marien. "This is one of our busiest stations and normally we'll register a few hundred each opening day."
Tim Vanderzouwen and his father managed to bag a 15-pointer mid-morning just outside of Mount Horeb.
"It was cold," said Vanderzouwen."Didn't see a whole lot, but we did manage to get that one back there," pointing to his buck.
Some hunters say the chilly temperatures were no match for their desire to spend quality time with their families.
"It's kind of something we've always done in my family," said Vanderzouwen. "That's mostly what we've done, going out with family members and having a good time."
DNR hunting and shooting sport coordinator Keith Warnke says the number of female hunters aged 10 to 30 increased by 10 percent this year.
The gun deer hunting season wraps up December 1.
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