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A foggy deer opener
Derick Belke heads out into a foggy field during a group hunt Saturday morning along County EE, north of Albany. Saturday marked the start of the nine-day gun deer hunting season in the state. (Times photo: Anthony Wahl)
MONROE - The gray fog settled in Saturday morning and didn't lift until the early evening, making for dismal hunting conditions for the first day of the traditional gun-deer season.

Accurate deer harvest numbers will not be available until after the nine-day gun season is over, but on Saturday afternoon there were a few lucky hunters who chanced to see a couple bucks wandering through the dense fog.

Matt Flood, Albany, said he was in a tree stand in the Albany Wildlife Area. He saw one buck that wandered out of the mist, which restricted sight distance to about 200 yards, and put down a decent sized three-point buck.

"It felt like it was raining all day because the tree I was under just kept dripping onto me," Flood said.

Flood said he got his buck at around 7 a.m. Saturday and it was pure luck.

"It was the right place at the right time," Flood said. "All I could really tell was, well, there's horns there, so I shot him."

Flood brought the buck to County E Locker, one of the eight registration stations across the county. Tera Kennedy, who helps out at the Locker on opening day, said they had registered about 10 deer from archery season and only about four from gun season as of noon Saturday.

Deeper into the afternoon, the fog hugged in closer, limiting sight distance to an even shorter distance. But another lucky hunter came to County E; Kasey Gates, Guthrie, Okla. was the only one in his party of about seven hunters to bag a buck. Gates said he comes up every year to visit family for Thanksgiving, and to hopefully take home a deer. Gates said he saw two deer pass under his tree stand and he shot the second, a buck. No one else in the hunting party was lucky enough to spot any deer that morning.

Gates and his family brought the buck back to a home on Edmunds Road with a deer hunter's dream setup: Brian and Katie Brugger have a garage attached to their home and a winch that can hold two deer carcasses. They also have a walk-in cooler to store their harvested meat.

Gates had his buck winched up and on a scale that showed he was 172 pounds.

The Bruggers' 2-year-old twins, Jack and Anna, were more than a little curious about the dead buck in their back room.

"Is it dead, or sleeping?" Jack asked.

"No, honey, it's dead. He's not getting back up," Katie Brugger said.

Jack was a little too bashful to go up and touch the deer but Anna was bold enough to put one digit on the buck's antler.

Gates said they will make a healthy amount of the venison into sausage links, and maybe prepare some for Thanksgiving.

The weather didn't let up on Sunday for hunters as rain came and went for most of the day, but the fog burned off, making it easier to see.

Gun-deer season ends Nov. 30. According to the Department of Natural Resources website, tag sales dipped to 710,680 this year from 731,725 in 2013.