WAUKESHA COUNTY -- The first day of gun deer hunting season is in the books in Wisconsin. 600,000 hunters are expected to take part in this year's harvest.
The Wisconsin DNR says the state's whitetail deer population is up this year after a few mild winters. On Saturday, hunters got their guns out to take a shot at some of the 1.4 million deer roaming public and private land.
Joe Luedke of Wauwatosa headed out to kettle moraine state forest early Saturday morning on a mission to bring home a buck.
"I'm still waiting for the elusive first one," he said.
Especially after letting a rare close encounter with a deer slip away.
"It caught me by surprise so that's why I didn't get a shot off," said Luedke.
Luedke's found Saturday’s mix of all sorts of weather to be a challenge.
"This right now with this wind I would say this is awful conditions to be honest with you," he said.
Getting a deer is of course Luedke's goal, but he said it's just a small piece of why he's taking part.
"I just really like getting away, for the most part putting my cell phone away," he said.
Last year's gun deer hunting season harvested more than 225,000 deer in Wisconsin, a number higher than the two previous years. Tom Mueller owns Deer Creek Processing in Waukesha. He's off to a busy start with eight more days to go.
"Typically a Saturday will bring in a handful of deer, this year we're getting about double that, maybe about a dozen this year which is a good first day," said Mueller.
Mueller loaded around a dozen deer to take up to his locker up north. He plans to bring back plenty of venison next week.
"Steaks, chops, then we can do roasts, then if they want summer sausages or whatever different sausages we can accommodate them with," he said.
Wisconsin's gun deer hunting season runs through next Sunday.