Hunters register more than 100,000 deer in opening weekend - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Hunters register more than 100,000 deer in 2009 opening weekend

MADISON (WKOW) -- Wisconsin deer hunters registered a preliminary tally of 100,330 deer in the first two days of the 2009 nine-day gun deer hunt.

The 2009 preliminary count compares to a similar opening weekend count of 133,828 in 2008. Buck harvest statewide in 2009 was 49,583 and antlerless harvest was 50,478.

You can find a breakdown of the opening weekend harvest by clicking here.

Hunting enthusiasm remains high

According to the DNR's license sales office, 626,404 hunters were in the woods with a license to participate in the 2009 nine-day gun deer season. The number of gun hunting licenses includes 9,592 ten- and eleven-year-old hunters who are able to participate as mentored hunters for the first time this year. This is the first season for the new Mentored Hunting Law in Wisconsin.

Deer license and tag sales will continue throughout the hunting season.

A long time Wisconsin custom of buying a license on the way to deer camp is also intact. More than 43 percent of all deer hunters purchased a license in the eight days before the gun deer opener. On Friday alone, 82,463 licenses were sold. At peak, the DNR's licensing system was processing 212 transactions per minute.

In the eight days preceding the season opener, nearly 270,000 licenses were issued.

Here is some information about the hunters who made it out for the 2009 season opener:

  • 592,287 (95 percent) were residents and 34,117 were nonresidents;
  • More than 79,000 youth hunters under 18 years old participated in this year's hunt representing 13 percent of the total number of deer hunters;
  • More than 54,000 hunters were age 65 or older, and over 191,000 (31 percent) are under 30-years-old;
  • Females represent 8.5 percent of the total hunters, and 20 percent of new 10- and 11-year-old hunters;
  • Hunters throughout the U.S. and several foreign countries purchased a Wisconsin gun deer license. The highest number of nonresident hunters came from Minnesota (16,413), Illinois (8,568), Michigan (1,078), and Florida (898);
  • The most deer licenses were sold in Dane County (29,024), with Brown, Washington, Marathon and Waukesha counties following;
  • More than 170,000 antlerless deer tags have been sold this year.

2009 Opening weekend injury report

According to the DNR, there were no confirmed fatal shooting incidents recorded on opening weekend, but there were five non-fatal firearms-related incidents.

"We are grateful these five incidents were not fatal and wish a speedy recovery to the victims, but the fact remains that all five could have been prevented if strict firearm safety rules had been observed by the shooters and by the victims who wounded themselves."

Three people were hurt on Saturday. In Grant County, a hunter was hit in the back of the leg by shrapnel when a hunting companion's gun went off into the door of a vehicle as he was trying to unload the gun.

In Price County, a hunter suffered a self-inflicted wound in the left hand from a handgun. In Green County a hunter was shot in the leg when he slipped crossing a stream on a log and his shotgun went off.

On the first Sunday of season, a Barron County hunter was hit in the thigh by a bullet. In St. Croix County a hunter shot himself in the right hand with a .30-30 caliber rifle.

Hunter Safety Administrator Tim Lawhern says that historically about half of Wisconsin's shooting accidents happen during deer drives. That's because usually someone is not where they are supposed to be or someone shoots at a deer when they do not have a safe backstop or in a direction they should not be shooting in.

"It is really important that hunting parties wanting to drive deer have a plan and that they follow that plan to the letter. Knowing where your hunting mates are and where safe shooting lanes are is critical," he said.

Statistically, nearly half of hunting accidents happen during opening weekend.

"I am hoping we buck that statistic and can avoid further incidents this year," Lawhern said. "Compared to the 'good ole' days,' hunting is safe and getting safer. In 1915, of the state's 155,000 hunters then, 24 were killed and 26 were injured. That meant 1 in about 3,100 hunters could expect to be killed or injured. Today it's 1 in 100,000 or better. Still any shooting incident is one too many. Hunters need to remember the shooting TAB-K safety rules and be careful with deer drives later this week," he said.

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