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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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Unless you travel to a ranch in Florence County, where the Rock family thinks they've tapped into a special and healthy food source.

Raising bison has always seemed normal to Michael Rock. His favorite is Badaxe, who is 25 years old.
"He became my baby and I feed him maple syrup and apples all the time, that's his favorite treat," said Michael.

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"We got into it for the health issues because now we know what we're eating," said David.
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"For me this is enjoyment because I'm outside and I'm with my family. And I like to be outside and work with them on that," said David.

Two of the Rocks' four children live and work on the ranch.

"Being able to tell them what to do. I'm still the dad, so I rule the roost. They are a big help and they do have good ideas. You do have to watch the younger generation," said David.

Their daughter, Josie, and son, Michael, help with feeding and maintaining the herd.

"My favorite are the babies. The babies when they're younger, they like fighting and playing. And they'll just be running around and playing," said Josie.

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Raising an animal is a large project, one that Michael would like to do for a long time.

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