A sea of orange at annual Tomahawk Venison Feed - WFXS, MyFoxWausau - News and Weather for Wausau, WI

A sea of orange at annual Tomahawk Venison Feed

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TOMAHAWK (WAOW) -

It's one of the most anticipated days of the year in the Northwoods. The 48th annual Tomahawk Venison Feed kicked off Friday.

"We see grandfathers and sons and grand kids coming down to this event, so I think it is part of our heritage," said Chamber of Commerce Director Tamra Anderson.

It started in the 1960s. A group of men created the event as a way to celebrate with hunters in the area.

"They smoked a full deer in the back behind the old chamber building," explained Anderson.

Throughout the years it's grown into this.

"Anybody that thinks deer hunting isn't important up north here, they gotta come here because this is surprising," said Louis Weyers, Tomahawk resident.

But the real action? Behind the grill. Some call Don Nelson a "Master Flipper."

"Maybe a flipper, I'd watch the word master," joked Nelson.

Nelson has been flipping venison burgers for 31 years. That means 31 years of sizing up the competition.

"There's always the biggest spatula contest," said Nelson as he yelled over to two men cooking at the grill across from him. "Those rookies down there, even though they're a lot older, they're still rookies and can only get one burger on at a time."

So, we put Nelson to the test.

"I can probably get five on there without even looking," said Nelson as he flipped his spatula in his hand and began flipping. He flipped up one burger, two, three, four and five. Stacked in a neat pile, Nelson proved he can live up to his nickname.

"Then we can distribute them, no problem at all and once the smoke clears we can see what kind of mess I made," laughed Nelson.

"There's nothing like the Northwoods," said Jim Guest.

And nothing like kicking off the hunt. Organizers say all the venison was donated by local businesses. This year they cooked up 1,600 burgers.

 

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