'Success starts with safety': DNR reminds hunters to practice safety during upcoming gun deer season

NOW: ’Success starts with safety’: DNR reminds hunters to practice safety during upcoming gun deer season

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- With the 2023 Gun Deer season now less than two weeks away, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is warning hunters to practice safety when attempting to harvest a deer.

"We want to wish hunters good luck and success," said Mike Webber, hunter education administrator with the Wisconsin DNR. "That success starts with safety."

The 2002 nine-day gun deer season saw eight firearm related incidents, including one death in Green Lake County where 11-year-old Easton Thom was shot and killed after a gun discharged while a member of his hunting party attempted to unload it.

"Treat every firearm as if it were loaded," Webber said. "Always point your muzzle in a safe direction. Be sure of your target; what's before and what's beyond it and keep your finger out of the finger guard until you're ready to shoot."

While firearm safety is important, Webber also urged hunters who will be using a tree stand to make sure they inspect it before heading out to the woods for opening day.

"Look at those straps and buckles," Webber advised. "Anytime you're going up in a tree stand, a ladder stand, a climber, a hang on tree stand, you want to wear that full body harness. Always make sure to use three points of contact at all times and use a tether line to raise and lower your unloaded firearm at all times."

Last year, hunters harvested over 203-thousand deer during the nine-day hunt, a 14-percent increase compared to 2021. This as the number of hunting licenses sold continues to see a slight decline.

"The Baby Boomer generation, who embraced deer hunting like no other generation before or after, is simply aging out and retiring from deer hunting," explained Jeff Pritzl with the Wisconsin DNR. "As they are slowly and gradually hanging up their blaze orange for the last time, we're just losing that couple of percent every year."

Hunters who will be participating this year are also reminded to make sure they have plenty of blaze orange or fluorescent pink on to make sure they are visible in the woods.

"Whether you're hunting on public, private land; anytime you go out make sure at least 50-percent of your upper body, including your hat and head covering, is that blaze orange or fluorescent pink," Webber said. "If they're faded, stained, need to be replaced, make sure to replace those and get new stuff because you really want to be seen while you're out there. Never assume that you're the only hunter out there on a property.

Wisconsin's 2023 Gun Deer season runs Nov. 18 through the 26th.

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