7 incidents, no deaths during 2011 gun deer season

DNR Press Release

MADISON -- Wisconsin hunters who filled the woods for the nine-day gun-deer season did their part to play it safe, closing the season on Nov. 28 with no fatalities among the seven reported incidents for all 72 counties.

A shooting incident under investigation in Monroe County was declared a deer hunting incident on Nov. 29, bringing the total incidents for the season to seven. The Monroe County incident was confirmed after the DNR issued its preliminary season round-up showing a total of six incidents. The additional incident, which was a non-fatal self-inflicted gunshot wound, also changed the ranking of the season from tied with another year as the second safest to the third safest in Wisconsin's recorded history.

The safest season was in 2004 when there were four incidents and two were fatalities. The second safest was 2007 when the state had six incidents, of which three were fatalities.

“Hunting is as safe as it has ever been and getting safer – thanks to the efforts of the hunters themselves, the many volunteer Hunter Education instructors and our conservation warden force,” DNR Law Enforcement Administrator Tim Lawhern said.

Lawhern also said the good news of the 2011 season does not diminish the pain and suffering endured by the victims in the seven incidents and the department wishes each a quick recovery.

“However, this is a milestone for safety in the hunting community – and we are pushing it become a trend that sticks for a long time,” he said.

These seven incidents occurred in the counties of Shawano, Waukesha, Clark, Polk, Monroe and two in Iowa.

The specifics of the 2011 incidents are:

- Three of the incidents occurred during deer drives.
- One incident involved two hunting parties.
- Three of the incidents were self-inflicted injuries.
- One incident and its victim involved a person who was not a licensed hunter, but was
participating in a deer drive with a group.
- Four incidents involved rifles and three involved shotguns.
- Two of the incidents involved juvenile shooters.
- Five of the seven shooters in these incidents had completed the Hunter Safety certification course.

And, the average shooter in these seven incidents is 31 years old and the average victim in these events is 43 years old.

The agency only tracks firearm-related incidents and does not keep track of deaths or injuries due to heart attacks, tree stand falls or other causes.

“Ultimately, nearly all are linked to a violation of one or more of the four basic rules of firearm safety – treat every firearm as if it is loaded, never point your firearm at a person, never put your finger in the trigger until you are ready to shoot and know what is behind your target,” Lawhern said of one of the top themes of the Hunter Education Certification Course. Hunter education is required for anyone born on or after Jan 1, 1973, and Lawhern encourages “All hunters should take the hunter education certification course – no matter the age.”

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