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Two special deer hunts see success

By Tom Cherveny

NEW LONDON -- Two special hunts held in the area proved successful once again.

Sibley State Park hosted its annual, special muzzleloader deer hunt Nov. 26 -27. The Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center hosted a deer hunt for disabled persons Nov. 11-13.

Ten hunters participated in the Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center hunt and harvested six deer, according to Mark Mertens, one of the organizers and a hunter. This was the 12th year that volunteers have made possible a deer hunt there.

Sibley State Park hosted 47 hunters who harvested 23 deer with muzzleloaders, according to Gary Bullemer, assistant manager. The hunt is restricted to antlerless deer.

The annual hunts serve to keep deer herds in check and prevent over-browsing by deer.

The muzzleloader hunt at Sibley State park began in 1992. Bullemer said the hunt attracts a very ethical and dedicated group of hunters. Some are true traditionalists, while others carry modern, in-line muzzleloaders into the woods.

The traditional muzzleloaders rely on igniting a pan of black powder, and every year there are stories of hunters waiting for the right shot only to have the powder fizzle at the crucial moment, said Bullemer.

There are traditions being created and lots of stories being enjoyed at the Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center hunt as well. The hunt is held as a classic adventure, with hunters joining for a hearty noon lunch to swap stories about the morning's adventures.

Volunteers are on hand to transport hunters to the enclosed and heated blinds, and assist with tracking and field dressing the deer.

Mertens said the hunt went very well, and everyone is already looking forward to next year's.