By Jeff Wagner

ST. CROIX COUNTY, Wis. (WCCO) — The persistent pile of carcasses outside Deer’s Food Locker in Deer Park gives a glimpse of a steady, and some might say successful, opening weekend for gun deer season in Western Wisconsin.

“I’ve seen 13-14 (deer) this morning,” hunter Chris Lovgren said.

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“Little slow for us but we were able to get a small six (point buck),” hunter Geoff Peck said.

Size aside, Peck’s other focus was making sure the buck he bagged is a healthy one that’s not suffering from Chronic Wasting Disease, which infects a deer’s nervous system and drops its life expectancy about two years.

“I mean it’s in the back of your mind when you’re hunting and whether or not your deer you harvest has it or not. It’s obviously something you would take on how the way it acted as you were hunting,” Peck said.

Just east in Dunn County, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resouces reported a deer harvested during the recent bow season tested positive for CWD. But since the county had no positive tests in 2018 during an extensive testing period, the Wisconsin DNR says it’s unlikely to spread.

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Although there have been no cases of a human contracting CWD, hunters still take caution.

“Research is still ongoing and (CWD) still affects our everyday life,” Lovgren said. “And if it actually can be an issue to humans, I don’t want to feed that to my family.”

Lovgren and Peck said they both look for CWD symptoms in a deer before shooting, such as the animal moving slower, keeping its head down, and lacking awareness.

Deer’s Food Locker will submit samples for CWD testing at a customer’s requests, but the owner said they’ve only had four requests out of roughly 400 deer brought in over the weekend.

If a hunter submits a deer sample for CWD testing, it takes up to two weeks to get the test results back. If deer tests positive for CWD, the Wisconsin DNR will issue the hunter a replacement deer harvest authorization. For more information on what to do after a positive tests, click here.

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The Minnesota DNR’s website states 24 deer have tested positive for CWD this year. That’s up from 17 positive tests last year. For more information on research into Minnesota’s CWD issue, click here.

Jeff Wagner