DNR: Increased rifle usage didn't cause big increase in accidents

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A rule change for hunters in Wisconsin didn’t cause a big jump in hunting accidents during the gun-deer season.

Parts of 18 counties including pierce, St. Croix, and La Crosse Counties had shotgun-only seasons in 2012.

That changed just ahead of this year’s gun-deer season, which just ended.

This year was the first time rifles could be used during the 9-day gun-deer season in counties throughout Wisconsin.

It’s a move that hunters like Lee Tabbert don’t have problem with.

“I think it’s fine as long as people respect the fact that you still have to use common sense when they use a rifle,” said Tabbert.

However, the Department of Natural Resources said municipalities could choose whether to allow rifles.

The agency said the change didn’t cause a dramatic increase in hunting accidents during this year’s hunt.

“When you have 615,000 plus people going out hunting and shooting you’re bound to have a few mishaps in the course of a year’s time, whether it’s a shotgun or a rifle,” said WI DNR administrative warden Jon King.

King said there were eight accidents in Wisconsin this year.

He said four involved people who shot themselves after improperly handling guns.

One involved a man who was shot in his home.

The other three happened during deer drives, which is when a hunter tries to move a deer within target range of another hunter.

Tabbert said hunters should always be careful, no matter which kind of weapon they use.

“It’s up to the people to handle them safely and use them in a correct matter, and know what their back stops are, and their limitations,” said Tabbert.

There’s no word from the DNR yet on how many accidents involved rifles, and how many involved shotguns.

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