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Northwoods Spotlight - Deer hunters struggle on opening weekend Nov 27Submitted: 11/27/2013
Story By Joe Dufek


- Cold.

Quiet.

Those two words best describe last week's opening weekend of deer hunting. It wasn't just the Northwoods struggling. Every county in the state was down from last year's totals. Several factors caused the drop.

"With winds gusting near 20 m.p.h. people were not sitting in the woods as long," DNR wildlife technician Eric Borchart explains. "Also our dder numbers are lower than a year ago."


The harsh spring suffered this year was the cause of that.

According to preliminary numbers from the DNR, Oneida, Lincoln, Langlade, and Florence coutnies were among many in the area which had a drop of between 26 - and 47%. Vilas county only suffered a 10% drop in the number of deer kills. Iron county saw one of the highlest drops in the state - 61%. In all - Wisconsin had a drop of 17.8 percent.

But that doesn't mean everyone was getting skunked. Steve Schultz of Twin Lakes knocked down an 8-pointer on Sunday in Marathon County.

Derek Storms of Shiocton shot a one-pointer near Three Lakes on Saturday.

"I call it a unicorn," Storms jokes. "Becasue it's only got one spike. Not a traditional spike buck. A mystical creature."

The nine-day season wraps up on Sunday.

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On Thursday, we learned that man is 48-year-old Mark Mayo of Eagle River, and he was threatening to kill himself. That was near a home between Eagle River and Phelps.

Mayo is safe, but now in Vilas County Jail.

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EAGLE RIVER - The Vilas County Sheriff's Office says no one was hurt after a 48-year-old Mark Mayo of Eagle River threatened to hurt himself with a firearm near Eagle River Wednesday night.

Crews responded Wednesday evening near to the area near Deerskin Road north of Eagle River and south of Phelps to reports that a man wanted to hurt himself and was armed with a 9 mm handgun and two magazines. That report came in around 3:55 p.m.

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ONEIDA COUNTY - Within a few hours, a jury found a Fox Valley man guilty of stealing things from the house where Ashlee Martinson killed Thomas and Jennifer Ayers Thursday.

The two-day trial for Mark Spietz, 39, of Kaukauna, finished up Thursday afternoon, following a morning of the defense arguing it was all part of Spietz's job.

Spietz was a contract worker for a company called TruAssets, which secures abandoned or foreclosed homes throughout the country. The company is based in Arizona.

On Thursday, Spietz testified that in September and October, he took ATVs, bows, a John Deere tractor, a trailer and Jennifer Ayers' purse from the house to try and secure it for his employer.

"My experience with the work order is that it is our job to make sure the property is secured," Spietz said. "Obviously if I can open the doors and get into it, anybody can open the doors and get into it. So I ended up removing the ATVs with the trailer and them bringing them back to Kaukauna to lock up in my storage facility where they would be under lock and key for the future for whatever the bank decided they wanted to do with their property."

In the criminal complaint, however, Spietz told investigators he took the purse because he thought his wife would like it.

But the state argued Thursday he technically didn't have permission from the company to be at the house after the first visit. Oneida County District Attorney Mike Schiek presented Spietz with the original work order form TruAssets assigned him. The document specifically stated not to remove any personal property from the house, and that contract workers should submit a bid for the property if they do take it from the house.

Schiek then argued Spietz specifically targeted the empty house because he knew its owners were dead.

"Looking back, what did you think you saw?" Schiek asked Spietz during his cross examination.

"Couple spots on the floor, large, dark spots," Spietz responded.

"Knowing what you know now, do you know what that was?" Schiek asked.

"To the best of my knowledge that's where they were killed," Spietz replied.

Spietz's attorney Brian Bennett said since Spietz is not from the area, he wouldn't have known the homicides happened at the house. He argued there was no sign saying no trespassing, nor had he had any knowledge the house was in probate.

"He used his best judgment based on his experience," Bennett said during his closing argument. "Which makes him quite possibly, if he's a burglar, the worst burglar in the world."

Bennett added Spietz gets little supervision from TruAssets, as Spietz testified he has never met a person from the company.

"It seems like a burden to have to come up here, pick up the stuff, store it, mess around with it, hold onto the titles, make sure it doesn't get stolen," Bennett said during his closing argument. "That's not a jackpot, that's a burden." 

Spietz will be sentenced in October. 

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Work to tear down the Social Services wing of the courthouse started Wednesday.  Crews will build a two-story expansion on the east side of the courthouse.

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Oldenburg Group announced today its Heavy Equipment Group has been sold.

That includes its Defense and Mining business units.

J.F. Lehman and Company will take over control of the operations.

The company was founded in 1992 by former Navy Secretary John Lehman.

The former Oldenburg operations will be renamed Lake Shore Systems, Inc.

The existing management team and employees will stay in place, and all plants will operate as normal.

The deal includes the plant in Rhinelander and several facilities in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

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