Wisconsin DNR officials say opening weekend a good one
Good weather across the state along with a fairly early opening made for what Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials describe as a generally successful start to the annual gun-deer hunt.
DNR figures show that hunters registered a preliminary tally of 171,584 deer over the first two days of the 2007 gun-deer hunting season. This compares to an opening weekend preliminary count of 167,573 in 2006.
In Polk County 4,672 deer were taken. In St. Croix County 1,417 were harvested. In Pierce the number was 2,340 while in Pepin County 1,174 were taken.
In Dunn County the total was 3,574 and in Eau Claire County the total was 2,278.
A complete tally is available on the DNR's Web site at www.dnr.wi.gov.
Wildlife officials say the state's deer herd is above population goals and that was another factor that contributed to the good opening when a total of 629,752 hunters hit the woods.
The relatively early start also caught the deer still in the middle of their rut or mating season.
Wildlife biologists aging deer at registration stations across Wisconsin said one often reported theme was that buck deer were often oblivious to anything other than the does they were pursuing.
Hunting conditions ranged from good to ideal in the north, with cool temperatures and some snow on the ground in certain areas, to much less than ideal in areas of the south and southeast with a steady drizzle that fell much of the day.
Temperatures started out near freezing early Saturday throughout most of the state, and never warmed much past the mid-30s in the north, but reached the mid-40s in the south.
"It wasn't too cold to chase people out of the woods, but not too warm to keep deer from moving," reported Pat Beringer, a DNR Wildlife biologist in Park Falls.
In the far western and west central region opening day reports were also good.
"We just had a 3-year-old with a really nice rack," she said. One hunter reported that he dozed off in his stand and woke up and there were four deer - two bucks and two does -- right next to his stand. They ran off before he could get a shot off but another buck came by about five minutes later and he shot that one," said Michelle Carlisle a DNR biologist who was aging deer at Gen's Bait and Sports in Amery.
"Everyone seems to be coming in, doing their business registering deer and getting right back out there again because the hunting conditions must be pretty good," said Whitney Finstad at the Ellsworth Speedway registration station.
DNR officials say it looks like hunters continued the tradition of waiting until the last minute to buy licenses.
License sales locations were very busy on Friday, particularly in the late afternoon when sales peaked at 213 transactions per minute around 3:30 p.m., according to DNR officials.
One gunshot fatality was reported from Waushara County on Sunday. DNR officials would only say that the victim was an 18-year old male who was shot by a member of his hunting group.
The name of the victim has not been released as authorities are still notifying his next of kin. The incident is still under investigation.
A new twist to this year's season was a seven-day-a-week DNR call center and computer chat service which could immediately answer hunter's questions.
Wildlife officials reported that they often received calls from hunters on their tree stands, at deer camp and in the field.
That service is available from 7 a.m. through 10 p.m. by calling 1-888-936-7462 or online on the DNR's Web site at www.dnr.state.wi.gov. The service is also available in Spanish and Hmong.