Pleasant weather greeted Minnesota's firearms deer hunters Saturday morning. In fact, it may have been a little too pleasant.
"A lot of hunters were complaining that it was too warm," Marty Anderson, DNR assistant area wildlife supervisor, said today. "They were overdressed and falling asleep on their deer stands."
Yet plenty of hunters stayed awake long enough to bag a deer. Most area registration stations reported they were ahead of last year's pace.
"It was a great opener. We're breaking records," said John Hoffman, manager at Oasis Sport Shop in Pequot Lakes. "On Saturday we had 100 deer by 1 o'clock in the afternoon, and we have 325 total so far. The Parker party from Nisswa filled out with five bucks by 9 a.m. Saturday. They've never done that in 50 years of hunting."
The Oasis runs a big buck contest and the leader is Tammy Field, Pequot Lakes, with a 12-point buck weighing 212 pounds. In second place is Mark Wallin, Pequot Lakes, with a 192-pound buck. Leading the youth division is Mike Armstrong with a 169-pound buck.
Over at Bob's Sports and Spirits in Emily there were so many hunters registering deer Saturday morning that employee Scott Berkman didn't have time to ask a lot of questions. But he said the store took in 267 deer for the weekend and that bucks were more numerous than does. "There were a lot of button bucks that were taken by guys with doe tags, and the great majority were shot on the opener," Berkman said.
Buck registrations were also leading the doe registrations at the Breezy Oasis and Standard in Breezy Point. Owner Bob Miller described the opener as "pretty good" and said a lot of nice deer came in, including a Selectivity seemed to prevail among the hunters who stopped by Oars-N-Mine in Crosby. Owner Roger Healy said a lot of hunters with doe tags had yet to fill them but that more than 300 deer came through the shop over the weekend. "A lot of groups filled out," Healy said. "We had several families where the husband, his wife and the kids all got deer. But most of the bigger parties aren't done yet."
The biggest deer checked in at Oars-N-Mine was a 10-point buck weighing 225 pounds. Unfortunately, the lucky hunter was not eligible for the shop's big buck contest because he didn't buy a ticket beforehand. Leading the contest is a 205-pound, 8-point buck taken by Ryan Kovatovich, Crosby.
Deerwood Self-Service had checked in 201 deer, including several 12-point bucks, as of 9 a.m. today. "We had a party of five that had five bucks by Saturday noon, and one was a 13-pointer, " Manager Debbie Wynn said. "We also registered 14 bow kills earlier in the week."
When Debbie Carner was contacted at Pillsbury Junction in Pillager Monday morning she said she had four bundles of tags on the counter that had been left behind by the weekend workers. A few minutes later she had totaled them up: 162 bucks and 90 does. "And I've checked in eight so far this morning," she added.
Other stations and their registration totals as of this morning: The Y Store, Merrifield, 247; The Corner Store, Brainerd, 204; Holiday station, north Highway 25, Brainerd, 205; Checkered Flag Conoco, Brained, 106; Bridge Tavern, Crosby, 193.
Most hunters said the deer movement Saturday appeared to be better than Sunday, probably because the wind kicked up overnight and deer generally are hesitant to move in the wind.
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