According to area meat processors, deer hunting success has been about as cold as the weather since the firearms deer season opened Wednesday. Most think the frigid weather and lowered success are related.• “We’re way down from last year,” said Vince Stroot, of Stroot Locker in Goddard. “We’re probably half of what we were the last couple of years. I think the weather has something to do with hunters not being out, but I’m hearing from a lot of guys that they just aren’t seeing (deer).”
Stroot, who talks with hundreds of deer hunters ever year, thinks the extreme cold also may have deer inactive, as they await warmer temperatures when they won’t burn as much energy coming and going to feed. He thinks there are other factors, too.
“I kind of think the drought is finally catching up to us, we don’t have the population from the couple of years when it was terribly dry,” Stroot said. “We’re just missing those deer (that died as fawns) that we should be shooting this year.”
He also said that the drought left deer with little escape cover the past two seasons, which helped hunters have better than average success those years, which also lowered the population.
“This year they’ve got cover and not as many deer,” Stroot said. “I think it all kind of adds up … the weather, the deer population is down and there’s more cover for them and they may not be out moving.• Mark Tittel, of Mark’s Meats in Halstead, largely echoed Stroot’s comments about receiving about half as many deer as the past several firearms deer seasons. As well as fewer hunters afield because of the weather, he said hunters seem to be having to work harder for success.
“It seems like a lot of guys bringing deer in say they weren’t seeing anything, and then they had to go out and walk them up. That’s what they’ve had to do to finally find something,” Tittel said. “But we’ve had some good cold deer seasons before. I’m just wondering if the population really is down that far.”• John Parsons, Parsons Taxidermy and Wild Game Processing in Derby, said numbers of deer brought in seem to be down this year, though Saturday saw quite a few happy hunters bringing deer into his facility. Like Tittel, he said some quality bucks have been brought in, while Stroot said quality seems to be down this season.
Parsons said the extreme cold conditions have been about as hard on deer processors as deer hunters.
“We’ve been getting some deer in that are frozen solid, because guys are holding on to them (because they won’t spoil),” Parsons said. “We have to thaw them out to skin them, and that’s not a lot of fun.”