Weather, deer action vary in gun season opener
FOOTVILLE With blue skies and breezes Saturday and foggy drizzle Sunday, the weather was a mixed bag for the opening weekend of Wisconsin's traditional nine-day gun season for deer.
Hunters in Rock and Walworth counties said the hunt was a mixed bag, as well.
Call it productively sluggish.
Saturday morning, Jim Hass, 16, of Evansville brought a 110-pound doe into a registration station at Footville Meat Market. The meat shop is in Footville, a village in west Rock County.
Hass was hunting on family land off Townsend Road south of Evansville under crisp, blue skies early Saturday. He was in his tree stand only 45 minutes before shooting his deer.
"It was quick, the fastest I ever got one. I hope that keeps up," Hass said, noting he planned to hunt again Saturday and probably Sunday.
The action was a little slower in Walworth County.
Sunday, Whitewater resident Danny Jordan, 26, bagged a big eight-point buck on private land off Johnson Road just north of Delavan.
Yet despite his take, Jordan seemed a little hollow-eyed as he waited for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials to tag out his deer at Bob Black's Meat Processing in Delavan.
Jordan said he was tired from monotony. He'd seen just one deer Sunday—the buck he shot—and only a handful of others Saturday.
"It's about the same as last year. Slow," he said.
Overall, hunters in Walworth and Rock Counties killed about a third fewer deer during the nine-day traditional gun season in 2009 compared to the same season in 2008.
Some deer hunters blame DNR deer management plans that have cut deer herds nearly 20 percent in the last eight years. Those plans seek to cut herds another 40 percent across much of southern Wisconsin in an attempt to control chronic wasting disease in the region.
Sunday, DNR officials were conducting CWD tests on the 15 deer brought in to Bob Black's Meat Processing.
Black said the DNR has used his processing business for a CWD testing outpost for the last three years.
Mike Christman, 40, of Darien bagged a small, antlerless buck late Saturday on private land off County C between Darien and Sharon. It was one of just two deer Christman saw in eight hours of hunting over the weekend.
"It's been not so swell," he said.
Christman registered his deer Sunday at Bob Black's. The kill earned him a blue Earn-a-Buck stamp.
Under Earn-a-Buck, which is part of the DNR's plan to thin deer populations, hunters must harvest a doe or an antlerless male before they can take a deer with substantial antlers.
Christman eyed his Earn-a-Buck stamp sourly before stuffing it in his pocket. He said he's seen fewer and fewer deer the last few years, and he blames the DNR for the thinned deer population. He said this year he almost didn't buy a deer permit.
"I've seen more coyotes this year than deer," Christman told a DNR agent.
While Sunday's weather and Christman's outlook were dour, Rock County saw what could be indications of an improved hunt.
Footville Meat Market reported it had checked in 60 deer by midday Sunday—a slight uptick compared to opening weekend of gun season in 2009.
The market reported it had checked in 25 does, 21 bucks and 14 fawns.
Peggy Jenson, who owns the market, said it's still too early to know how the gun season will pan out.
"It's early. I'll know by Monday or Wednesday whether I'll need extra help," she said.