Does sitting in a deer stand in northern Wisconsin, rifle in hand, take priority over watching a noon home game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Green Bay Packers?
Maybe it does for some hunters.
“If the game is at noon, we’ll see hunters rolling in here about 11 a.m.,” said Bob vanDoorn, who owns Doorn’s Inn with his wife Amanda. “Some stay for the entire game; a few might leave at halftime, depending on the game and whether it’s a noon or 3:25 p.m. kickoff.”
Doorn’s Inn is one of two businesses the vanDoorns own along County N in mid-Bayfield County. Food, drink and television are the main draws, but they also have meat raffles most Sundays, too.
Most patrons are out-of-towners, according to Bob vanDoorn. He guesses it might be a bit too noisy for the older, local crowd according to what he’s seen during his 12 years, after coming across the border from the west.
Many of the hunters are done and heading home when they come in for lunch before traveling south shortly after the game. A few might go back out and get an hour in before season closes for the day.
“This can be a pretty excitable crowd and they gave up deer hunting to come and watch the Packers,” vanDoorn said.
It doesn’t help any that Bob and Amanda have not lost their love for the Vikings, but they do root for Green Bay as long as Minnesota is not the opponent.
The vanDoorns don’t expect anything to change much this year, either, though Green Bay lost its star quarterback. Even during losing seasons, the hunters still come out of the woods to watch and cheer, he said.
Sometimes Amanda sets up free shots with Packer scores, but usually not during Vikings games.
The best crowds, the most vocal, are during Vikings and Packers in an overtime game. If the Packers win, Bob expects and receives a good-hearted ribbing and acts as though he doesn’t mind it, because this is his business.
“If the Vikings win, it quiets down quickly,” he said.
Then the crowd may turn to grumbling about deer hunting and not seeing enough deer. “I don’t have the nerve to tell them that part of the reason they don’t see deer is because they’re sitting in my bar,” vanDoorn said. “But this is a bar and people are supposed to come here and grumble a bit. That’s what bars are for, isn’t it?"
Even during an opening weekend of Wisconsin’s gun deer season in the North County.