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Opening day finally arrives
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With the nine-day gun deer hunting season starting on Saturday, Nov. 22, many are wondering what the 2014 hunt will bring.

As of Tuesday, the Weather Channel forecast was calling for some moderation in temperatures on Saturday with a high of 37 degrees and a low of 32 degrees forecast under cloudy skies. The forecast goes on to predict rain for Sunday, Nov. 23. Then snow for Monday, Nov. 24 and Tuesday, Nov. 24.

As for the deer, Viroqua-based DNR Wildlife Biologist Dave Matheys believes there will be slightly more deer in the field this year in Crawford County than the previous years.

Despite the two harsh winters, the deer herd has increased in the area, according to the wildlife biologist. He noted that last year’s cold opening weekend may have suppressed hunting activity and decreased the overall harvest.

While Matheys believes the local deer herd is on the upswing, he doesn’t feel it has gone too far and created overpopulation. There’s just ”a few more deer.”

As for the archery season, Matheys believes it’s too early to predict what the impact of allowing unrestricted crossbow use this year will bring. He noted that Crawford County has never been the destination for bow hunters. He said the reason is hard to explain. He noted local hunters may be busy earlier in the fall with crops and work outside and don’t have the time for bow hunting, preferring instead to wait for the gun deer season.

Jay Greene, owner of Greener’s Corners, a popular deer registration station in Seneca, was unable to assess the impact of the crossbow hunters on the total of deer taken in the archery season.

Both Matheys and Greener noted that changes in the extra bonus tagging procedures might surprise some hunters this year. Matheys pointed out that the old Deer Management Units (DMUs) are not being used in this area and permits are being issued for specific counties instead. The DNR official also explained that extra bonus tags for antlerless deer being purchased are no longer an unlimited supply. There are limited numbers and they will cost $12. In addition to being specific to a county, they are also specific to whether the land being hunted is public or private.

There may be some changes in store this season, and there may be a few more or a few less deer, and the weather may be a bit colder or warmer than last year, but one thing is certain—Saturday, Nov. 22 is opening day of the nine-day gun deer season. Good Luck! Enjoy the hunt and be safe out there!