Opening Weekend

by Free Speech on November 29, 2010

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

      This past weekend the Wisconsin Gun Deer Season opened in the state to good hunting conditions with cool temperatures and partly cloudy skies. Many hunters would have preferred a little snow on the ground for tracking and better visibility, but about

the only locations in the state that had snow on the ground was the far northern counties of the state.

      There would be no hunting for me with my arthritic shoulder which I had fallen on a month earlier in my own backyard and fractured. But, I haven’t hunted deer for years since my first shoulder replacement and have worked registering deer in Sauk County for years where I get the chance to see, listen to, photograph, and hear stories from hundreds of hunters who come to the Wilderness Fish and Game store in Sauk City for registration. Though, I miss the excitement of opening day and the camaraderie of getting together with friends that I don’t see regularly registering deer has kept me in touch with many hunters and friends who enjoy relating their deer hunting experiences to me. There is one thing for sure and that is that deer hunters have plenty to say and love to talk about their passion for deer hunting.

       Saturday morning began early for me with waking up a little after five o’clock to shower and dress for the day. I don’t have to worry about deer detecting my scent anymore, so a warm shower helped wake me up for what was going to be a long day. I left the house a little after six o’clock to do a little driving around the area looking for hunters on the Mazomanie and Blackhawk Public Hunting Grounds that border my home on the Lower Wisconsin Riverway. There are thousands of acres of state and public land open to hunting within a few miles of my front door. I’ve written at times about the lack of hunters and outdoorsmen that I see on this land and the many opportunities that are available to outdoors people throughout the state on public lands. Wisconsin is a state with many outdoor opportunities for all who “love” the outdoors, if you compare it with other states where natural resources are much more limited. Wisconsinites are lucky when you compare it with many other states where hunting is done by drawings and the amount of public land is very limited and no where near what Wisconsin has available for its residents. There are thousands and thousands of acres available in the southern half of the state for hunting and outdoor activities and in the northern counties there are thousands of acres in the National Forests. Believe me when I say that we have it good here!

      I was mildly surprised to see dozens of vehicles already parked when I did my “drive” around the public lands before heading into Sauk City. There were dozens of trucks parked in most of the parking areas surrounding the public hunting lands. This is the most trucks and cars that I’ve seen on an opening weekend in many years. Either, more people are out hunting, the state’s “mentor” program is bringing more young and new hunters into the sport, the nice weather brought more people out for the opener, more people are eating venison with a poor economy, or there’s some other reason that I don’t know about. I think that it’s most likely a combination of all the above reasons. Let me know what you think?

      The DNR had some biologists and wildlife ecologists working at the Wilderness registration station in Sauk City. They are still taking the lymph nodes for CWD testing in much of southern Wisconsin. The deer in northern Wisconsin were also tested in some locations because of a deer from a shooting preserve that tested positive this fall for CWD. But, the deer’s report came back from the national lab in Ames, Iowa that confirmed that the deer was a false positive and not infected with CWD.

      One thing about registering deer is that you get to see and talk to so many different people from all over the state and even Illinois who come to this area to hunt deer. I get to hear and listen to many different and diverse opinions on what deer hunting has now become in our state since the introduction of CWD, what hunters would like to see in rules and regulations in future years, and above all everyone has an opinion on how the Department of Natural Resources should be run and managed. One positive note is that I’ve seen fewer people against having their newly harvested deer tested for chronic wasting disease. Now, most hunters that I talked with wanted to have their deer tested while a few seasons ago hunters were not as open to testing.

      The number of deer registered opening weekend was higher than last season in the Dane, Iowa, Columbia, and Sauk County areas that registered deer at my registration station. The opening weekend usually has about 70 % of the total deer harvest shot and registered. The Sauk City registration station had almost 400 deer registered this weekend with about 35 % being antlered or buck deer. The Saturday numbers were more than twice of what was registered on Sunday. I drove the same route on Monday morning as I did on opening morning and there were only a few trucks on the public lands that were crowded on Saturday. People don’t take as many days off to hunt as before and now seem to hunt whenever they have a day or afternoon off vs. taking the week or a few days off from their normal activities. People also seem to hunt closer to home instead of traveling to hunt as was the case for many years.

      Deer hunting has changed and it has to continue to adapt to today’s times if hunting is to continue as we know it now. The people and the state must work together to make the deer hunting season what it once was, a “special” and exciting time of the year that hunters looked forward to all year long. We still need to keep trying to bring more young hunters and new hunters into the sport. We also need to have the public and state work together for the benefit of all who enjoy our magnificent outdoors and the wonderful natural resources that we have.

     Keep being safe and get out hunting when your time allows it! Hunting is more than harvesting a deer. There’s the fellowship, camaraderie, and wonderful outdoors to enjoy and cherish.

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