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Some eyes may have popped and heads jerked when the Department of Natural Resources reported last week that 13,712 fewer deer were registered during opening weekend this year than last.

What went wrong? Maybe nothing or maybe a combination of weather, deer present on the landscape, no-shows in the fields and forest and other things, too.

Regardless of the causes, it is way too early to put the reason on one or even several causes.

Someplace in a list of guesses we may learn that all this meddling with lessening rules and eliminating traditions have had the opposite responses. Some hunters stop hunting and return to the hunting recreation due to rule changes, even those that lessen the requirements.

For those hunters who just plain missed the gun deer season or missed a shot, the ongoing muzzleloader season, a four-day antlerless hunt and a selective holiday hunt are likely to have an impact on the final registration.

The archery seasons certainly support that reasoning, with bow and crossbow hunters having killed 79,093 deer already. That number will continue to grow.

Remember the blaze orange (and pink) clothing requirement, which includes the hunter’s cap. Only waterfowl hunters are exempt from this rule. Squirrel, turkey, archers and many more are not.

It was rewarding to see more individuals walking to get mail from their boxes, selecting and cutting Christmas trees, waiting for school busses, and horseback riders donning some blaze orange clothing during the gun deer seasons.

Evergreen trees and boughs are in excellent condition due to last summer and autumn growing seasons.

Odd antlers continue to show up in taxidermists’ work piles. A Portage County crossbower brought an interesting palmated rack to Alex Lease’s Outdoor Addiction Taxidermy in rural Blue Mounds.

Greg Scheckel, Dodgeville, connected with a buck with three antlers, and several side stickers. Believe it or not, his wife Leslie, is the spouse putting pressure on him getting a mount commissioned, and a head mount not an English mount she hopes. Usually deer mount discussions are exactly the opposite. “You’ll never see another one like that,” she advised her husband.

Good and bad chronic wasting disease news continues with a Federal bill penned by Reps. Ron Kind and Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin to give states and tribes funding and other assistance to fight CWD in deer, elk and moose.

Additional Wisconsin areas have been quarantined; that’s the bad news.

While bird feeding folks are wondering when the flocks will arrive, birders are being alerted that this could be another big year for snowy owls in Wisconsin, with about 70 birds having already been reported before the gun deer season began.

Other birds, including bald and golden eagles and hawks continue to perch in likely locations where gut piles, as they’re called, might be found.

While ice anglers are still readying their gear, some have pushed it aside and returned to pheasant and turkey hunting.

With bare ground in most areas, gathering more firewood and tinder are drawing crowds. Remember that white birch bark, including pieces with wood attached, and white pine seed cones are excellent tinder, fresh or dried.

Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer, at or 608-924-1112