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Not a normal year for me on the deer opener

Not a normal year for me on the deer opener Not a normal year for me on the deer opener

As I approached my post on opening morning, I bumped a doe that headed across the property line and then ran west across a road. That’s not the usual type of post I’m known for, but with the predicted wind, my knees, back, and an asthma flare-up, this year was different. I settled into the tent blind and lit the heater. If I couldn’t hunt a nasty patch of woods way back in, I was going to be comfortable.

Barely five minutes went by when I spotted a deer in the grey morning woods, sneaking north towards the property line to my west about 70 yards. I put the scope up and noticed it was a scrubby spike on one side and maybe a fork on the other. Since this was an odd year, I almost snapped off the safety, but didn’t. The deer crossed the property line, went about 40 yards into the neighboring property and headed east.

A minute later, the first of the shots rang out over the next three minutes or so, the third of which sent a doe scrambling west 25 yards on the other side of the property line. Had she turned south and crossed over, I would have plugged her the first time she stopped to look back, but she kept going west.

I couldn’t see the hunter doing the shooting, but he wasn’t all that far off, and he never did get that spike buck.

But, while looking for blood, he pushed another buck up. I first spotted his antlers moving through the brush about 125 yards north only 25 minutes after shooting opened. I couldn’t tell you exactly what he was because I never put the scope on him and the bino’s were in the truck. I watched him trot quickly straight west, crossing the road.

He died about a minute later. He was at least a large two and a half year old. I was ready for him to turn south and cross over; I even had the rifle on the rest.

I kind of felt like Randy Newberg when things get screwed up, and he can’t shoot a bull or buck because it’s too close to a border line or other hunters screw it up. He always says “hey, that’s public land hunting.” In this case, it was, “hey, that’s hunting on private land with property lines deer don’t care about.” But, I was seeing deer, which is better than just a few years ago. There was a fair amount of shooting around us on opening morning. Hunters to my east shot and killed a buck and doe. Someone to the west shot a very nice buck. Our group put our first deer on the ground about midmorning, when my 14 year old nephew shot his first deer. We were so happy for him. Last year, I relayed that the few number of hunting incidents with no fatalities provided hope for an incident-free gun deer season in my lifetime. This wasn’t the year. The first incident of the year occurred around 11:30 on opening day on a deer drive. The shooter was 19 years old and the victim was 62. He was shot in the arm and face and survived.

On that Sunday, around 5 p.m., a retired police officer tripped while exiting his blind with his shotgun, the shotgun discharged into his chest. He was sadly pronounced dead at the scene of the incident. That was the fourth and final hunting incident of opening weekend.

Since then, a hunting incident in the Marshfield area resulted in a hunter getting shot in the face. Literally less than a half inch decided that he would live. The family has been quite open, including pictures on social media.

Registration of harvested deer for opening weekend is up over 2,000 deer and just under a 1,000 buck increase in the buck harvest. 95,257 deer were bagged and 48,252 were bucks.

License sales were up; as of Nov. 23, sales for gun, bow, crossbow, sports and patron licenses reached 810,233. Of that total, 559,591 were for gun privileges only, including gun, patron and sports licenses. The year-to-date sales for all deer licenses are up 3.2 percent from the same time last year, which seems to indicate personal switch by many hunters to archery verses the gun deer season. If you like using your crossbow, I would pay attention this year. There is still some hunting left- good luck and stay safe.