"Opening day of course is the best:" 9-day gun deer hunt starts off with a bang

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Today marks the start of the 9-day gun deer hunting season -- and you can certainly tell. Shortly after sundown, the DNR station was swarming with brightly colored or camouflaged folks carting fresh cargo.

"Opening day of course is the best hunting because after that the deer get a lot more skiddish," said hunter from Milwaukee, Jonathan Ragatz.

Ragatz bagged a doe in the afternoon. FOX6 News found him when he stopped by the DNR station to have it checked for chronic wasting disease.

"I just like to know. I've never had a deer test positive, therefore I've never had to worry about it yet but I don't know what I would do if I did have on that was tested positive," said Ragatz.

CWD testing is voluntary. DNR workers cut out the animals' lymph nodes to have them tested and then get the results to hunters in 2 to 3 weeks.

"It concentrates in the central nervous system and it deteriorates the deer brain over time which causes them to eventually get very thin, very emaciated and die," said Tim Lizotte, wildlife supervisor.

The disease is not known to spread to other species, but the DNR tests for it to track where it is in the sate, and how prevalent it is.

"We recommend if a deer were to test positive that it not be consumed, we've never seen it cross the species barrier but it's just to be on the safe side," said Lizotte.

Ragatz says he'll be waiting to eat his deer's meat until he knows the results of the test.

"Just cause there's still so many unknowns about the disease," said Ragatz.

FOX6 News is told around 250,000 deer are typically harvested during the gun deer season and about half of that happens during opening weekend.

The revenue from deer hunting is close to $28 million, which the DNR uses for conservation efforts throughout the state.