Hunters register more than 171,000 deer over opening weekend MADISON – In what were mixed but generally good hunting conditions across the state, hunters registered a preliminary tally of 171,584 deer over the first two days of the 2007 gun deer hunting season. This compares to an opening weekend preliminary count of 167,573 in 2006. “From field reports we’ve received, there appeared to be a little bit of everything in terms of weather for the opener,” said Matthew J. Frank, DNR Secretary. “The hunters I talked to at various registration stations over the weekend were in high spirits and happy. We’re glad the cooler temperatures and the early opening date seemed to favor hunters.” Keith Warnke, DNR’s top deer and bear biologist, noted, “I heard a lot of shooting from my stand Saturday morning and the biologists I’ve talked to say the rut was still on in most places with bucks actively pursuing does and paying less attention to hunters.” Hunters found conditions ranging from light snow either on the ground or falling, to drizzle depending on where they were in the state. Most areas reported light to moderate winds. In general, visibility was good in most areas and mild enough that hunters stayed out yet cool enough to safely to hang meat without fear of spoilage. Hunters brought in 70,021 bucks and 101,563 antlerless deer over the two day period that started 30 minutes before sunrise on Saturday the 17th and ended 20 minutes past sunset on Sunday the 18th. A license sales update on Monday morning showed that approximately an additional 4,900 licenses had been sold after the season started in addition to the 629,752 sold prior to the opener. In past years, 9,000 to 10,000 licenses have been purchased after the start of the season. As of the close of hunting hours on Monday, November19, two gunshot fatalities have been reported. In Waushara County on Sunday an 18-year old male was shot by a member of his hunting group and on Monday a 29-year old Illinois man was killed in Burnett County, also by a member of his hunting party. Prior to 1967, the year hunter education began in Wisconsin, the hunting incident rate was 44 per 100,000 participants. Today the rate is fewer than 4 per 100,000 participants. “We’ve reduced hunting incidents by more than 90 percent since the days before hunter education,” said Tim Lawhern, DNR hunter safety administrator. “This was the safest opening weekend in the history of gun deer hunting in Wisconsin and I encourage all hunters to remain vigilant and safety conscious for the remainder of the hunting season. Let’s make it not only the safest opening weekend ever, let’s make it the safest deer hunt ever. “The key is to keep practicing safety for the balance of the season.” Lawhern advises hunters to always remember TAB-K: T - Treat every firearm as if it’s loaded. A - Always point your muzzle in a safe direction. B - Be certain of your target and what lies beyond. K - Keep your finger out of the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.