Ramzey Gardiner might not have as much experience as the older hunters in his group, but on Saturday he did have bragging rights.
“Right in the neck, right here,” he said pointing to the place where he shot his first buck. “I don't get lucky, but today I did.” He shot the buck in just 20 minutes of being in the stand.
Hunters donned their blaze orange and hit the mountains Saturday for the first day of rifle deer-hunting season. More than 50 deer were tagged.
Seeing young people out hunting gives wildlife biologists new hope for the sport.
“With the different activities today we're starting to lose hunters,” said Dale Liechty, a wildlife biologist. “They'd rather stay home and watch TV or play video games, but when we get youth out get them in the mountains and let them harvest a deer they're hooked for life.”
Liechty's job is to inspect bucks that hunters like Gardiner bring in to the checking station.
“We're looking for the fat that they carry so that we can predict what condition these deer are in going into winter,” he said. “If they're in poor physical condition going into winter and we have a bad winter then we might need to put them on a feeding program.”
Liechty also checks for Chronic Wasting Disease. So far the deer that have come in look to be in good condition, he said.
Rifle deer hunting season lasts for nine days. If you plan to do some hiking or biking in the mountains during that time-- wildlife officers recommend wearing orange as well.