OCONTO COUNTY - Hunters who were successful on opening weekend of Wisconsin's gun deer season are finding themselves in a race against time.
Temperatures have been well above freezing, so the hunters are scrambling to process their deer before the meat spoils.
At Merlotte's Meats in Brookside, a steady stream of hunters unloads hundreds of deer.
Vic Peterson shot an eight-point buck Sunday morning. He wasted little time bringing it to the processor.
"They can go bad just with the warm temperature. Normally everybody likes to hang them up a few days. This way they have to get them in and processed as soon as possible," said Peterson, who's from Oconto Falls.
In the town of Pittsfield, Gary Vande Hei brought this buck to Maplewood Meats.
"He's been hanging up north since Saturday morning," said Vande Hei, who's from Green Bay.
Maplewood won't process the whole deer. Hundreds of hunters brought in pre-cut chunks of venison to be made into sausage and hamburger.
The owner says each cut of meat is inspected because venison can be prone to carrying high levels of bacteria.
"When you have warm weather, we got to have it as fresh as possible. When you walk the border line of being rotten, to being fresh. If they wait to bring it in, we run into issues with that, definitely," said Brad Van Hemelryk, Maplewood Meats co-owner.
Good advice for hunters who don't want their season to end up on a rotten note.
"We put a lot of time into it. It would be nothing worse than to see a deer spoil. It's important to get it in. Get it in right away, and get it taken care of," said Vande Hei.
Click here for more tips on how to keep your venison from spoiling.
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