Wisconsin DNR urges deer hunters to take COVID precautions

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Amid this latest COVID-19 surge, Wisconsin's gun deer season opens this weekend.

Camping and ammunition sales are up, but so are the fears of a super-spreading event.

The Wisconsin DNR wants hunters to change some of their traditions.

"Going to be mindful of anybody I'm going with," said deer hunter Nick Tirnanich.

He said he's heard a similar phrase among his hunting buddies this year.

"I've heard a couple times my mom doesn't feel comfortable maybe having so many people over," said Tirnanich.

That's a conversation the Wisconsin DNR wants hunters to have as they plan to hunt during COVID-19.

"Traditional deer camping you're concentrating people into a building, and certainly that risk is there," said DNR Wildlife Administrator Eric Lobner.

Lobner suggested hunters drive separately, hunt closer to home, do more to stay away from each other. He said license sales show there will be more hunters this year.

"We're up right around 9.5 and 10 percent," said Lobner.

That's showing up demand for ammunition, camping gear, and processing the kill.

"In the last few days we've had a number of hunters looking for ammunition, and unfortunately there's a great ammunition shortage this year," said Firearms Instructor Tom Rolfson.

"We see a ton of people coming in for cold weather sleeping bags, that's been a really hot item," said Sherper's owner Nate Scherper.

"Everybody's going hunting, the kids are going hunting this year, otherwise they're playing on their Iphones," said Deer Creek Processing Owner Tom Mueller.

Mueller said his customers will have to stay in their cars this year when dropping off their deer carcasses. He's actually planning to limit business.

"I don't know if I'm going to get sick, or my partner's going to get sick, and then we've got all these deer and then what are you going to do," said Mueller.

Georgia Tech researchers put together a county by county map to give people an idea of their risk of COVID-19.

Let's say you're in a hunting party of ten people, anywhere in Wisconsin, the chance you'll be exposed to one person with the virus runs between 30 and 50 percent.

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