Wisconsin opened its firearm deer season on Saturday to temperatures of five degrees in some parts of the state. Accounting for wind chill, Sauk County hunters faced a chilly morning that was as cold as four degrees below zero. The cold was good news for those that dared to go outside on the season opener, as deer movement can increase with cool weather. However, the opposite is apparently true for humans.
“I got two layers of thermal underwear, I got this wool flannel shirt, some bibs and then a hunting coat. I also had on some gloves, some hand warmers tucked into them and a face mask,” hunter Paul Rehlinger told Fox 6.
Hunters hunkered in their blinds and tried to keep warm. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reported that a healthy number of hunters were successful in bagging deer, although the cold may have dissuaded some sportsmen.
“The predawn cold and winds made it clear that opening morning was going to test the will of deer hunters today. Even our blind did not offer much shelter,” DNR wildlife management director Tom Hauge said in a press release. “Snickers candy bars are frozen solid but still a treat.”
The cold continued into early this week and looks to make the entirety of the state’s nine-day gun season a chilly one. Not even Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker had much luck from where he was hunting in Washington County. Walker posted a picture of himself shrouded in a face mask on Twitter with the message, “Wow is it cold out. The deer must think the same thing as I haven’t seen a thing.”
Nearly 616,000 firearm deer licenses were sold in Wisconsin this year, a small increase over last year due in part to the rising number of women hunters. Experts estimate the number of female hunters in the state to have increased by at least 10 percent, and according to the Wisconsin State Journal, may increase by up to 43 percent by 2030.
“I don’t know if I would have gotten out [hunting] if I hadn’t known people I identified with and had something in common with,” said Kelly Maynard. “For a long time, it’s been a male-dominated thing, and it doesn’t have to be.”
The popularity of hunting among women is a trend that the DNR is happy to promote. Last year Wisconsin had 62,000 female hunters. While that number still only represents just over 10 percent of all hunters in the state, new incentives like hunting classes have drawn in new and young women hunters. Many of these women braved the chilling temperatures of the weekend for a shot at whitetail.
“Even the squirrels were hunkered down,” joked DNR land division aministartor Kurt Thiede, wrapping up hunters’ sentiments neatly.
Image courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources