Hunting season opener called good here, frigid temperatures, fewer deer cited|
|Eric Borchert, Department of Natural Resources wildlife technician in Antigo, called the 2013 gun deer opener “good” but not spectacular due to lower numbers of animals and frigid temperatures.|
Hunters awoke both Saturday and Sunday mornings to the coldest opening weekend conditions in years and that, coupled with a deer herd still recovering from a very long 2012-13 winter, caused a 26 percent reduction in opening weekend harvest totals.
“Overall opening weekend was good,” Borchert, who spent the weekend at the registration station at the DNR Service Center, said. “People understand that deer numbers were down.”
Temperatures dipping down to 5 degrees at sunrise and winds gusting to more than 30 miles per hour made for challenging conditions for the opening of the 2013 Wisconsin nine-day gun deer season, but it also preserved snow cover, a plus for hunters.
“The big thing that I kept hearing about was the weather and cold conditions,” Borchert said. “How long can you stay out in that?”
Early registration numbers in Langlade County indicate that total harvest of 1,049 animals, down 25.92 percent. That included 703 bucks, a drop of 13 1/2 percent, and 346 does, down 42,62 percent due in part to fewer antlerless tags being issued.
Tally by station includes:
—DNR Service Center: 179 bucks, 126 does.
—Held’s Bar in Deerbrook: 65 bucks, 21 does.
—Elcho Shell: 25 bucks, 13 does.
—Mike’s Mobil, Langlade: 130 bucks, 52 does.
—Hope & Marv’s in Parrish: 38 bucks, 12 does.
—Kuhr’ Kountry Store, Phlox: 99 bucks, 51 does.
—Lotters BP, Pickerel: 109 bucks, 47 does.
—Summit Lake Gas N Go: 58 bucks, 24 does.
Borchert said that last winter, which started early and ended late, also took a toll on the bucks that were registered, with antler development “a little below average.”
“Over that long winter, they put so much energy into their bodies that antlers suffered in size,” he said.
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 half way 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.
Borchert said that the camaraderie among hunters was high, observations echoed by northwoods hospitality managers who reported one of the most festive openers in years.
Borchert credited a variety of DNR initiatives, including the youth mentoring program which is bringing more and more young hunters into the woods and creating—or strengthening—generational bonds.
“It’s starting to renew some of those family hunts again,” Borchert said. “We had one huge group come in with a pickup truck full of deer and everyone from grandfathers to grandsons.”
Total gun deer license sales for 2013 as of Nov. 23 were 615,872 up a little less than 1 percent from 2012.
Borchert said that lower opening weekend numbers mean there are more tags to fill, and expected higher-than-usual activity for the remainder of the season.
“We’re see a pretty good effort toward the later parts of the season to fill tags,” he said.
Max Schubart brought in this buck, with a one-of-a-kind rack to the DNR’s Antigo registration station Saturday morning. It was the first buck for the young hunter.
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