ANTIGO - On Tuesday, we learned the number of deer killed on the first weekend of the gun season was 13,000 more than last year.
In the Northwoods as whole, the early harvest was about the same as last year. Numbers fell a bit in Forest, Iron, and Price counties. They rose slightly in Oneida, Vilas, and Lincoln counties.
But in Langlade County, they were up almost 18 percent.
In Antigo, the cooler at Ken's Hwy 45 Meat Market filled up quickly.
"I would say it was at least twice as busy as other years," said owner Ken Schmidt.
Schmidt guesses he has about 70 deer to process in his shop, much more than usual.
"[Monday] was just crazy," he said. "There [were] people here all the time, bringing deer in, dropping deer off, bringing trim in to get ground, trim in for sausage. It was just crazy."
Langlade County stood out in a mixed bag of opening weekend deer numbers in the north. Hunters killed 200 more deer there than last year.
Good weather and a season falling early on the calendar helped harvest numbers rise statewide.
"This is our Super Bowl, a lot of people talk about with deer, and you like to see that deer season is on a positive note," said Antigo-based DNR Headwaters Wildlife Supervisor Chuck McCullough. "We had great weather. We had an early season [nearer to] the rut. So all conditions were positive for hunting this weekend."
McCullough oversees wildlife management in the Northwoods. But he said this year, managing the hunt seemed secondary to managing something else.
"In our area, CWD in the wild is a completely new thing," McCullough said.
The DNR is making a strong push to collect deer heads for chronic wasting disease testing, especially between Rhinelander and Tomahawk and in the Three Lakes area.
"It has transformed our normal preparation to a CWD-management all-out for me and my staff this year," McCullough said.
As part of the effort on CWD, community partners put new carcass dumpsters at DNR offices in Rhinelander and Woodruff.
The following numbers show opening weekend results for the 11 counties in the viewing area through the opening two days.
Adams: 2,233 (Total) +14.3% 1,184 (Antlered) 1,049 (Antlerless)
Forest: 710 (Total) -7.9% 610 (Antlered) 100 (Antlerless)
Langlade: 1,660 (Total) +17.6% 1,044 (Antlered) 616 (Antlerless)
Lincoln: 1,513 (Total) +5.7% 921 (Antlered) 592 (Antlerless)
Marathon: 4,140 (Total) +10.3% 2,268 (Antlered) 1,872 (Antlerless)
Oneida: 1,263 (Total) +9.2% 886 (Antlered) 377 (Antlerless)
Portage: 2,423 (Total) +20.0% 1,326 (Antlered) 1,097 (Antlerless)
Price: 1,163 (Total) -11.3% 918 (Antlered) 245 (Antlerless)
Taylor: 1,718 (Total) +10.1% 1,134 (Antlered) 584 (Antlerless)
Vilas: 811 (Total) +9.6% 570 (Antlered) 241 (Antlerless)
Wood: 509 (Total) +12.9% 379 (Antlered) 130 (Antlerless)