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Deer Hunt 2016: Opening day harvest totals down

Deer hunter walks in snow at Navarino State Wildlife Area, November 19, 2016 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

SHAWANO COUNTY (WLUK) -- Deer Hunt 2016 is rolling on, and opening weekend is in the books.

Legions of hunters took to the woods Saturday morning, but across the state, fewer deer were harvested.

Biologists and hunters agree, it all comes down to the weather.

Cold temperatures, and a biting breeze greeted many hunters opening morning.

"Saturday certainly was an adventure, I think obviously the wind was challenging. But if you could get out of the wind, we had snow on the ground, and it felt like deer hunting weather. But if you were exposed to that northwest wind, understandably, it was a challenge to sit out there and to see deer," said Jeff Pritzl, DNR District Wildlife Supervisor.

Hunters say it was tough sitting in the woods.

"The temperature was fine, it just the wind. The deer don't like move when it's windy. They can't smell, they can't hear, they just hunker down," said John Demopoulos, Muskego.

Scott Mittlestadt bagged a six-point atypical buck near Crivitz.

"It was very windy. I didn't go up in the tree. Because of that, I sat in the swamp. The deer walked within 20 yards, and I shot it," said Scott Mittlestadt, Pewaukee.

Wildlife biologists say opening day harvest totals are down about 10 percent across the state.

"Given the conditions, just being down 10 percent isn't that big of a surprise," said Pritzl.

Pritzl says in places where there are plenty of antlerless deer, hunters are responding.

"Shawano, Waupaca, and some of the Lakeshore counties, total harvest was down, but the ratio of antlerless deer harvested for each buck, which is what we're kind of looking at, was up from last year. So that's a good sign," he said.

Pritzl says opening weekend typically makes up about half of the season's harvest. He says there is still time to bag that trophy buck.

"I talk to plenty of people. At the end of the season, kind of wishing that oh, maybe I shouldn't have passed that one up, real early in the season, because it turned out to be their best chance," said Pritzl.

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