Hunters prepare for opening of gun deer season

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WAUNAKEE, Wis. (WMTV) -- Hunters prepared at the Dane County Law Enforcement Training Center Sunday afternoon for the opening of gun deer season on Nov. 17.

The gun range at the Dane County Law Enforcement Training Center is typically used by officials, but every year for the two weeks leading up to the opening of gun deer season, it is available for hunters to sight-in.

Officials with the Dane County Sheriff's Office will help hunters align the scopes on their guns, and then will work with them as they shoot targets.

"They shoot anywhere from three to 50 rounds, as many as it takes for them to get a good grouping in," said Deputy Dawn Redford. "When they get a really good tight grouping where they have at least three shots in the same area, and where they want it on the target, then we have them pack up and sight-in the next person."

Deputy Redford said that giving the hunters the chance to work with the Sheriff's Office is important in making sure everyone is prepared before they begin the season.

"They know that that shot is going to go into the deer, and not into somebody else in their hunting party, or somebody especially on public land that may be shooting that they're not aware of," she said.

Both Deputy Redford and Brad Burton, a Wisconsin Conservation Warden with the DNR, said that Wisconsin is generally a safe hunting state. However, both said that accidents do happen, and that everyone should practice gun safety.

Burton said that hunters should remember to treat all firearms as if they are loaded, and to never aim at something you would not want to shoot. He also recommended that hunters check their tree stands before using them, and make sure to wear their harnesses.

"We just talked to a guy recently who's still recovering from falling out of a stand, it can be a very serious issue," he said.

In addition to watching out for the safety of yourself and others while hunting, Burton said hunters should be on the look out for those violating hunting laws.

"Some of the biggest issues that we have every year are usually baiting, shooting from the road, people harvesting more deer than they're allowed to," he said. He said hunters should call the DNR hotline if they see any of those violations.

While people should always hunt safely, they should also be aware of one new change with tagging this year.

"From previous years you used to have to validate your tag by cutting off the end of it, but now you don't even actually have to take your paper copy into the field," Burton said. "You can either have your Go Wild card or you driver's license, which will have your tags on it, and we have a 10 digit harvest authorization code that you can use to register your deer. You can either do that online or by using the phone."

The gun deer season lasts from Nov. 17 to Nov. 25. The sight-in at the Dane County Law Enforcement Training Center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. until Nov. 16.