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Deer opener starts with a bang

Steve Wolsztyniak emerges from the woods north of Park Rapids in search of a buck he shot Saturday morning. (Sarah Smith/Enterprise)1 / 3
Gage, 8 and Chase, 5, are veterans of deer camp. (Sarah Smith/Enterprise)2 / 3
Deer were on the move Saturday as hundreds of hunters swept through the forests and fields of Hubbard County. (Sarah Smith/Enterprise)3 / 3

By dawn Saturday hundreds of orange-clad men and women had fanned out over the fields and forests of Hubbard County in search of deer.

The firearms opener got off ton its usual bang even though deer counts are down and permit restrictions mean only getting one deer in the Park Rapids and Osage areas.

Further south in Becker County a five-deer limit was in effect.

Steve Wolsztyniak, a Chicago resident who has a seasonal home on Pickerel Lake in Hubbard County, was already searching for the buck he'd shot around 7:30 Saturday morning.

"I'm hoping it didn't run onto private property or I might have to start knocking on doors" to get permission to retrieve it, he said.

He was hunting off the Lake George Road, southeast of the lake 10 miles north of Park Rapids.

"They weren't giving doe permits this year so we're going after bucks," he said regretfully.

"Last year our party only got two small bucks," he said.

But even though the odds seem against him, he said he will continue to return to the region each fall to participate in the hunt.

Eight-year-old Gage Amundson, sporting a hunting cap that read "12 Gage" and brother Chase, 5, are already veterans of hunting camp. They spent Friday night roasting hot dogs, gathering firewood and hanging out with the hunters.

The boys, who live near Bad Medicine Lake, are still too young to hunt, but they'll be ready when the time comes.