Cold weather doesn't freeze deer hunters' spirits

Saturday, November 13, 2010 | 6:21 p.m. CST; updated 2:29 p.m. CST, Friday, November 25, 2011

COLUMBIA — Minutes before the Missouri Tigers’ kickoff against Kansas State, Tim McIntyre, 52, of Lake St. Louis, stood by a slow cooker of chili like many football tailgaters. But he wasn't planning on going to the game.

McIntyre was roughly nine miles down U.S. 63 at the hunting entrance to Three Creeks Conservation Area. Out since 5:30 a.m., McIntyre was taking a break from a dry spell, saying he felt he would see something eventually.

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A cold, sunless Saturday morning marked the beginning of deer season for Missouri hunters. As of 5 p.m. on Saturday, 1,046 does, button buck and antlered buck had been killed in Boone County during all the deer-hunting seasons this year.

Chuck Pitschner, 41, of St. Louis had similar results as McIntyre.

“I shot at one, but I missed,” Pitschner said.

But he wasn’t discouraged.

“I’ve shot deer out here since '93 and this has been a good, successful place for me," Pitschner said. "My family and I have been hunting out here since '93 and we love it out here.”

Pitschner said he made the drive from St. Louis to Columbia at midnight Saturday when his wife got off work and arrived in Columbia at 2 a.m.

“I left deer camp at three, got out in the woods and got in my spot by five,” Pitschner said.

Pat Frazier, 56, has 41 years of hunting experience. He hunted at his farm east of Centralia, but said he didn’t see any deer . 

“Went out, the wind was blowing a little bit, waiting for the rain to quit,” Frazier said, making note of the dreary weather.

“It’s the first day,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. 

Hank and Tammy Giesing said they saw a couple of bucks and four does on opening day, which, according to them, was pretty slow for where they were hunting.

“The deer weren’t moving as much because of the weather,” Hank Giesing said.

Despite spotting several deer during the morning, the Giesings left their hunting spot in the Missouri river bottoms for lunch empty-handed, but not lacking in hope. They were both planning on returning in the afternoon in order to try again.

“It’s just a matter of time,” Hank said.

Cheri Perry, who works at the Perche Creek Café in Midway General Store off Highway 40, was trying to keep up with the number of hunters coming and going during the middle of the much-anticipated opening day.

“I think our busiest day of the year was yesterday when people were just getting ready for hunting today,” Perry said.

Some of those people had closer encounters with the deer than others.

Levi Elfrink, 9, of Jackson, wanted to pull the trigger, but his dad was holding the gun.

Levi, who was on his second hunting trip, reluctantly got up at 3:45 a.m. to get to the deer stand he and his dad had set up the night before and began to wait for the deer.

“We saw a couple, like five,” Levi said. “We had two chances, one at a doe and one at a buck, but Dad didn’t shoot.”

Levi’s father Mark Elfrink laughed it off, claiming he was trying to be pickier than he was last year.

“I am going to have to pull the trigger sometime this afternoon, though, or I am going to be in trouble,” Mark said, smiling.

Mark said Levi has to wait until next year before he can do some shooting of his own.

Despite the weather, Drew and Pierce Jolly had a very successful morning. Drew shot a nine-point buck and 13-year-old Pierce shot what he described as a "nice-sized doe."

The father and son duo had dropped their deer off for processing before they stopped for lunch at Heuer’s Café in Sturgeon.

“If the meat is processed, I like deer sausage the best," Pierce said. "If not, I like roast or jerky about the same."

The two hoped to get back out Saturday afternoon and continue their success.

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