Northwoods Spotlight - Deer hunters rebound after slow opening weekendSubmitted: 12/04/2013
Story By Joe Dufek

- 226,582. That's how many deer were killed during this year's nine-day firearms season. Compared to nearly 244,000 last year, that's a 7% drop.

After a rough opening weekend, deer hunters found more deer. State-wide opening weekend deer killed was down nearly 18% compared to a year ago. But after the season ended - deer numbers improved to only a 7% drop.

Jeremy Holtz is a wildlife biologist in Oneida County. He says after the harsh spring experienced earlier this year, the lack of success could have been a lot worse.

"If you look at Northern Wisconsin, we're down 7%, maybe 12%, " Holtz explains. "With the late hunt, and the rough winter we had, there is no question we could have had far worse impact."

In Onieda County: nearly 2300 deer were killed. That's includes 1500 bucks - compared to more than 1600 in 2012. Also less than 800 doe were taken compared to 1000 last year. One of those having some success was 14-year old Payton Hartman of Rhinelander. She got not one, but two doe. She was able to fill both her brother's and her own permits.

Vilas county saw 130 fewer bucks dropped - an 11% decrease. Steve Janisse of Three Lakes was fortunate enough to get on the board. He bagged a four-pointer north of Eagle River.

"Deer are moving around pretty good around here," Janisse said. "I saw lots of doe before I saw this buck."

Two complants the DNR is hearing as reasons for a drop in deer available to shoot, too many anterless permits issued and too many natural predators.

"There is no doubt about it, deer are delicious and everything wants to eat them," Holtz adds. "We have hunting seasons for all all predators. We issued less antlerless tags for the second year in a row."

Holtz adds, final numbers should be available by early March. Then the state can determine how many antlerless permits if any will be issued in each county for next year's hunt.

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MERRILL - This weekend Northcentral Technical College hosted its fourth annual Fire and EMS University for firefighters across Wisconsin.

It provides training on firefighting and EMS techniques at the Public Safety Center of Excellence in Merrill.

In a simulation training exercise, firefighters have their hoods covering their face so they couldn't see anything when they entered a basement. They had to feel a fire hose and use teamwork to get around and save a dummy.

Firefighters from all over Wisconsin can come to the all-day event. They came to refresh their skills, teach and learn new techniques.

"We put out some classes that are very interesting and not run every day and if it applies to their department they'll send people," said Dean of the Public Safety Division of Northcentral Technical College Doug Jennings.

The school keeps adding other training tools as well. Just this year they added more training features, such as a simulator that allows law enforcement to practice driving trucks, squad cars and EMS vehicles.

On Saturday the students also trained with the aerial ladder.

"We are the only fire department in Lincoln County with an aerial ladder," said Merrill Fire Chief Dave Savone. "And so most of our firefighters have to operate our aerial ladder. And so we felt this truck operation aerial ladder operations is a great class for them to come and see."

UST Fire Apparatus brought a new aerial ladder truck for the students to practice with, and teachers from southern Wisconsin and St. Louis, Mo., also came to help coach.

Firefighters say they want to constantly re-educate themselves.

"It's great to get the extra practice," said Dean Johnson from the Town of Wausau Fire Department.

Northcentral Technical College also offers semester schedule curricula for law enforcement and fire science. 

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MILWAUKEE - A published report says unauthorized improvements have been made to a footpath on state land that a donor to Gov. Scott Walker has been trying to buy.

A spokesman for business executive Elizabeth Uihlein acknowledged that workers at her adjoining property may have cleaned up the trail slightly.

But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1Z18WU8 ) reports those who have seen the trail say the improvements are significant.

Uihlein is seeking to buy 1.75 acres along Rest Lake, where the footpath is located. But a tentative deal with the Department of Natural Resources was put on hold after critics raised questions.

A DNR spokesman says the agency inspected the site on Thursday and found an "established trail." He declined to say whether the department had talked to Uihlein or her representatives.

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MERRILL - Merrill residents might have heard a lot of music in town today.

Merrill High School hosted the Merrill Marching Invitational. Three high school marching bands took over the football field at Merrill High School Sunday.

Antigo, D.C. Everest, and Merrill high schools all showcased their musical creativity.

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RHINELANDER - Harvest Hoedown started Saturday at noon at the Woodpecker Bar and Grill in Rhinelander.

The event featured a hay maze, horse-drawn carriage rides, food, and live music all afternoon.

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NEKOOSA - People in Nekoosa could go back in time this weekend.

Volunteers at Pointe Basse recreated a historical camp that portrayed the lives of people from the 1700s and early 1800s.

Volunteers from all across the U.S. had a piece of history to share.

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EAGLE RIVER - Eagle River hosted its 36th annual Cranberry Fest during October's first weekend.

Organizers say the weather this year brought in many more visitors.

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THREE LAKES - A Northwoods priest may never experience a mass as large as he did this past Sunday. It was Pope Francis' final mass in the U.S. during his trip. Organizers predicted nearly 500,000 people would attend.

Father Bala of Three Lakes was able to make it to Philadelphia for the mass. He was one of a small group from the Northwoods who made the trip, and he said it felt like an extremely personal gathering.

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