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Wisconsin deer hunt third safest

December 01, 2008 at 04:13 PM

WAUSAU, Wis. (AP)—With nine accidental shootings, Wisconsin’s tradition-steeped deer hunt was the third safest on record, the state Department of Natural Resources said Monday.

A 48-year-old Appleton man died after a partner shot him during a deer drive, and eight others were wounded - four of them with self-inflicted shots in the leg or foot, said Tim Lawhern, the agency’s safety administrator.

But the nine-day hunt was safe overall, Lawhern said: “We are well below the 10-year average of incidents for the season. The 10-year average is 15.”

The DNR measures safety based on the number of shooting incidents, not the number of fatalities.

The nine shooting victims were all males, ages 13 to 62, Lawhern said. Five of the shootings occurred during deer drives.

The number of deer killed won’t be known until Tuesday. The 642,419 licensed hunters had until late Monday to register deer with the DNR from the hunt that ended Sunday.

The total, however, was expected to be less than last year’s 343,644, partly because hunters registered 133,828 deer after the opening weekend, 22 percent fewer than a year ago, the DNR said. The opening weekend is often a barometer of hunting success.

Jenny Hansen of Dale told The Post-Crescent in Appleton that she was only half-joking in feeling the state owed her a refund on her $24 hunting license.

Hansen believes the state’s deer population is dropping, despite DNR estimates that up to 1.7 million deer roamed the fields and woods this fall, only 100,000 fewer than a year ago.

Hansen, her husband, son and daughter killed three does in the early bow season, but the only deer they got during the gun season was a nine-point buck, she told the newspaper.

Kelly Remme, owner of Ma’s Bait and Tackle in Fremont, said Monday her store registered 711 deer - down nearly 30 percent from last year.

“The mood was terrible,” she said. “People aren’t see ing any deer. There are a lot of disappointed people. We talked to people who go up north, and they are not seeing deer up there either.”

The safest deer hunting season occurred in 2004, with four shooting incidents, two of which were fatal, Lawhern said.

But the 2004 hunt was marred by a tragedy in northwestern Wisconsin. Six white hunters were killed by an Asian hunter following an angry, racially charged confrontation over trespassing in a tree stand on private land in Sawyer County.

Last year was the second safest gun deer season, with six incidents and three fatalities.

Lawhern was not discouraged by the 50 percent increase in shooting accidents this season.

“This is typical, very typical,” he said. “You get a safe year, and you have a year or two of an increase, then you have another safe year, and it becomes a record year. Then you get an increase, and it drops again. There’s a pattern.”

The most dangerous hunting season in recent t imes was 1987, when eight hunters died in 53 shooting accidents, Lawhern said.

Wisconsin hunts have become safer since the state started its hunter education program in 1967, requiring training in gun safety and proper gun handling. Safety also improved once hunters were required to wear blaze orange, making them easier to see.

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The season should have been very safe. Not many hunters fired their guns. There were not many deer around to shoot at!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/02 at 12:44 AM

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