Deer hunting season opens to plenty of stories, bars see slower business

Wisconsin's gun deer hunting season started Saturday.
Wisconsin's gun deer hunting season started Saturday.(WEAU)
Published: Nov. 21, 2020 at 8:19 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - For the deer opener at Schmidt’s Ballroom Bar and Grill Saturday, it felt like deer season, with laughs and stories to go around.

“They’re all talking about what they got, what they didn’t shoot,” owner Sandra Burns said with a laugh.

“We actually had a chance at a trophy buck. Steve Brown, a friend of mine, missed that buck,” said local hunter Steve Zahn.

That missed buck was the buck heard ‘round the world to those at Schmidt’s Ballroom, which was just one example of the tradition of closing the deer opener day with a meal.

“It’s even more fun when a good friend misses a big buck, because then you can give him a hard time,” Zahn said with a chuckle.

While these season was surrounded by COVID-19, the stories from a long day were still there. Like Brookelyn Burns, a first-time hunter, who reflected on her experience.

“To be able to sit out there with just, you know, with me and you have no pressure around you. It’s really nice to be out there,” Burns explained.

Amidst the noise of a loud bar, Burns was able to reflect on a peaceful day.

“You hear everything. Even if a branch, a squirrel, anything you hear,” Burns said.

But even if the outdoors felt like normal, it was hard to avoid the difference inside.

“With the pandemic and everything going through. Yeah, it’s down a little,” Sandra Burns said.

At lunchtime, the story was worse at Z Place to Be in Mosinee, which is typically filled to the brim with hunters eating a lunchtime meal.”

“Like no other, and it’s not in a good way. It’s been slow and getting slower,” owner Zena Dhols said.

The difference between last year and this year is significant, and Dhols said sales have dropped 50 percent in the last three months.

“It doesn’t even seem like deer hunting. Doesn’t even seem like deer hunting. Just another day,” Dohls said with a disappointed look on her face.”

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