Thursday, March 10, 2011

Volunteer instructors, hunters’ dedication behind fatality-free gun-deer season

Remember to sign up for your hunter safety class
MADISON – Hunting history repeated itself in Wisconsin 2010 – and the head of the state’s hunter education program is looking for a repeat performance in 2011.

“Wisconsin ended its 2010 gun-deer season free of hunter fatalities,” Department of Natural Resources conservation warden and longtime hunter education program leader Tim Lawhern said. “This is a feat first -- and last -- seen in 1974.

Lawhern says the 2010 hunting success story has a lot to do with the effectiveness of the state’s volunteer instructors of hunter safety education programs and hunters themselves for their dedication to safety.
“This also is a good reminder for hunters to sign up for their required hunter safety classes – now, “ Lawhern said. “Classes fill very fast and very few are offered between October and December. That’s when our volunteer instructors are hunting, too.”

Overall, there were 12 hunting incidents during the nine-day gun season. For the families of the injured hunters, Lawhern says 2010 didn’t feel like a success. “Any shooting incident is one too many,” Lawhern said. “And we wish them all speedy recoveries.”

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.

Lawhern, who also serves as the president of the International Hunter Education Association, says several factors were behind the successful 2010 hunt.
Classroom and technology big in the woods
High on Lawhern’s list as big factors behind the second-only fatal-free season in Wisconsin’s history of the gun-deer hunt is the participation in the DNR Hunter Education Program – which began as hunter safety classes in 1967.

“The year before hunter education began in Wisconsin, the incident rate was 44 injuries for every 100,000 hunters,” Lawhern said, adding the 1967 course was six hours long and covered firearm safety only.
Things have changed since 1967.

“Since that time, we have seen things like the creation of opening and closing hours for hunting, mandatory blaze orange for hunters, full safety harnesses, firearm restrictions, global positioning satellite devices, cell phones and more,” he said. “All of these have contributed to the increased safety for hunters.”

Wisconsin’s hunter education certification program became mandatory for all hunters born or after Jan. 1, 1973 in 1985. That meant any hunter 12, the youngest legal hunter, beginning in 1985 had to complete the hunter education program.

“We have certified almost one million graduates. Our program has led the way both nationally – and internationally – with improved delivery, curriculum and outreach regarding safe and responsible hunting,” Lawhern said of the program taught by volunteer instructors statewide. Wisconsin’s hunter education program has had many firsts, including the nation’s first online course, instructor academy and a junior instructor program.

“The hunter education program also has evolved into more topics including knowledge, responsibility and ethics,” he said.

While the fatal-free season is a victory for safety, Lawhern says it wasn’t a complete surprise.
Predicting the fatal-free season, and the four rules of firearm safety
Lawhern says considering all the progress made in hunting, along with looking at the records behind every shooting incident of past seasons, made it easy to predict the fatal-free season was coming.
“We know a tremendous amount about hunting incidents. We can predict who is going to be shot. We can predict how many, where and what they are going to be doing at that moment,” Lawhern said. “We just don’t have the names and addresses.”

Lawhern’s analysis shows about one-third to one-half of all injuries is related to deer drives. The self-inflicted injuries will be one-third to one half of all the total of the gun-deer season.

“We also know the shooters younger than 18 will make up about 20 to 30 percent of the shooting injuries, though this past season it was less than that. The vast majority will occur on private land and half will happen on opening weekend,” he said. “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, always point the muzzle in a safe direction, be certain of your target and what's beyond, and keep your finger outside the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.”

And, Lawhern says, the most significant contributors to hunting incidents are those 35 and older – the hunters not covered by the mandatory hunter education course rule. “All hunters should consider taking the hunter education certification course – no matter the age.”
Safety doesn’t take breaks
“Our hunter education program is revered as one of, if not the best in the country,” Lawhern said, adding most of the volunteer instructors have never experienced a gun-deer season free of fatalities. “Those instructors, along with other factors, are major contributors to the success and safety of hunting.”
The course helps all hunters to make safety a habit.

“Safety does not take a vacation. Either you are safe all the time, every time, or you are not. You are only as safe as your next hunt,” he said.

Lawhern says he hopes those who haven’t completed the hunter education certification course will make it a priority in 2011 to make the next gun-deer season the third fatal-free in the state’s history.

“Let’s not wait until 36 years. Let’s repeat this safety success story in 2011,” Lawhern said. “A good start on that goal is to make sure you have completed your hunter safety course now so you can enjoy the fall deer season.”

More information about hunter safety education is available on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tim Lawhern – (608) 264-6133
Source: Wisconsin DNR

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Deer Management Unit information forums to be held around state

MADISON – A series of deer management public information forums are scheduled across the state in March. These forums are for anyone interested in deer and the most up to date deer management unit information.

Topics will include 2010 harvest summaries and recommendations for 2011 season frameworks, increasing hunter survey participation and new deer research progress. Local wildlife biologists will be on hand at each meeting to provide information on local deer management units and answer questions.

The meetings are intended to share information with the public about Wisconsin deer management and how it is applied in the local areas where they live, hunt or farm.

The local wildlife biologist will provide a brief presentation followed by a question and answer period. Some meetings may also have an open house format, allowing attendees to stop in anytime during the scheduled time.

People are encouraged to attend the meetings that cover the deer management units they are interested in (see the list of deer management unit meetings in the DNR Hearing and Meeting Calendar), but are welcome to attend any of the meetings. People who are unable to attend any of the forums also have an opportunity to discuss the units with DNR wildlife staff at the Wisconsin Sport Show in Eau Claire, the Deer and Turkey Expo in Madison, the Wisconsin Deer Classic and Hunting Expo in Green Bay, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sports Show in West Allis.

Additional information about is available on the DNR website. Weekly News Article Published: March 1, 2011 by the Central Office

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dan Hirchert, Madison (608) 264-6023, Bob Manwell (608) 264-9248 or area wildlife biologists listed for the meeting locations in the meeting calendar.

Wisconsin DNR,

Hunting and fishing licenses go on sale Today

MADISON – 2011-12 Wisconsin hunting, fishing, trapping and other licenses for fish and wildlife activities in Wisconsin go on sale Wednesday, March 9. Annual licenses are valid from April 1, 2011 through March 31, 2012. Hunting and fishing licenses for the 2010-11 license year expire on March 31, 2011.

Hunting and fishing licenses can be purchased over the Internet through the Online Licensing Center on the DNR website, at all authorized license agents, at DNR Service Centers (Hours for service centers vary; check the DNR website for service center days and hours of operation; DNR Service Centers are not open on Saturdays), or by calling toll-free 1-877-LICENSE (1-877-945-4236).

Department of Natural Resources customer service staff is available to assist the public by phone and online from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Spanish and Hmong bilingual customer service representatives are also available. Customers may reach Customer Service at 1-888-WDNR INFo (1-888-936-7463) or by e-mail at An online chat link is also available on the DNR website.

Information on renewing a Conservation Patrons License, which offers many different privileges, including licenses, stamps, applications, park admission and more, was included in the February issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine, along with a bonus pamphlet showing how fish and wildlife license and permit fees are spent to bolster outdoor recreation.
New one-day fishing license offered
New this year, people can purchase a one-day fishing license. The one-day license is $8 for residents and$10 for non-residents. The one-day license purchaser can select any date they choose, and their license is good until midnight of the day they select.

Customers who purchase the one day license are eligible to purchase a reduced rate annual fishing license ($12.75 for a resident and $40.75 for a nonresident) during the same license year.

“People can buy a one-day license and then -- if they decide they want to fish some more -- trade up to the annual license,” says Diane Brookbank, director of DNR licensing and customer service,

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bureau of Customer Service and Licensing, (608) 266-2621
Source: Wisconsin DNR (

Friday, March 4, 2011

Sandhill “learn to deer hunt” applications available

BABCOCK, Wis. – Youth and beginning hunters who want to learn the basics of deer hunting in Wisconsin can sign up for learn to hunt workshops at the Sandhill Wildlife Area near Babcock,

The one-day workshops include information on deer biology and management, scouting, firearm safety, hunt rules and regulations, and hunter ethics. Those who complete the workshops return to Sandhill for a special hunt on Nov. 5-6.

A youth workshop is offered to young hunters, 12 to 15 years old. Each child must be accompanied by an adult, 21 years or older, who acts as chaperon and teacher. One-day youth workshops will be held on August 4, 6 and 8.

A one-day beginner adult workshop is offered to people 16 or older who have never hunted deer with a gun before. Beginner adults must also be accompanied by an adult chaperone. The Beginner Adult workshop will be held on Saturday, Sept. 24.

To qualify for the program, all participants must either be enrolled in a Hunter Safety course or must possess a valid Hunter Safety Certificate. Students will be required to have a license by the time of the hunt. Previous participants are ineligible.

Chaperones should have some deer hunting experience and are expected to attend the workshop as well as the hunt with the student. Their primary role is to assist the beginner in developing the skills necessary to become a responsible hunter and outdoors person. The chaperone will not be allowed to carry a firearm during the hunt.

Applications for the Sandhill Outdoor Skills Center’s learn to hunt deer workshops and hunt for youth and beginner adults are available on the DNR website and at DNR Service Centers. Applications must be postmarked on or before May 31, 2011. Enrollment is limited to a total of 100 students. Applicants will be randomly selected and successful applicants will be notified by June 22. A fee of $40 will be charged to enter program. Fee waivers are available for those unable to afford the fee.

Visit the Sandhill Outdoor Skills Center page of the DNR website for information on other activities.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Britt Searles - 715-884-6335
Source: Wisconsin DNR (

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Deer captures to continue through March

MADISON – Wisconsin deer researchers have succeeded in capturing a total of 187 deer in two study areas as part of a multi-year effort designed to answer concerns hunters have voiced over population estimates that in part determine deer hunting season structure. Capture efforts are expected to continue through March 2011.

Spread across two study areas, one centered around Sawyer County representing a northern forest habitat, and one centered in Shawano County representing a farmland-forest habitat, the studies will take the closest look yet at the actual percentage of deer dying at the hands of hunters compared to all other causes of death from vehicle collisions to disease, to weather and importantly, to predators. Reproductive rates and causes of death in fawns are also being explored.

“The outpouring of offers to help and assist with providing access to land and deer trapping activities from hunters, landowners and conservation groups has been phenomenal,” said DNR research scientist, Chris Jacques. “Without their help it would be very difficult to pull this off and with that help, we can make this a better study that will accomplish more in answering their questions and addressing their concerns”
Captured deer have been fitted with radio collars and ear tags so that researchers can follow them to determine cause of death. New born fawns will also be located and collared for the same purpose. One important question hunters and researchers are trying to learn more about is the percentage of deer, both adult and fawns that are lost to predators such as black bear, bobcat, coyote and wolf.

Two primary methods have been used to date for capturing deer. Ground traps, which are either wooden boxes or netted frames, both with trap doors, and recent efforts to capture deer using nets shot from a low flying helicopter.

Like any statistical survey, as the size of the sample increases (the number of deer captured in this example) the more confident researchers can be that what they observe in the sample accurately represents the population as a whole.

“Capturing as many deer as possible at the start of this project is important,” said Jacques, and helicopters have proven to be the most efficient way to capture large numbers of deer in a short amount of time.”
Due to on-going mechanical problems, the company contracted for the helicopter work has suspended operations for the remainder of this capture season and returned to their base in Utah. The contractor did not have a replacement helicopter available to pick up the work.

Capturing wildlife by helicopter is a proven wildlife management technique used by biologists around the world. This is the first time is has been used in Wisconsin and it turns out, Wisconsin’s varied landscape adds some difficulty to the process.

Capturing wild deer can result in unintended mortality. Every animal captured represents an investment in the project in time, effort and expense so researchers take every possible precaution to keep mortality as low as possible. In the case of helicopter capture, keeping pursuit times and transport distances short and limiting handling time from the moment the net drops till the animal is released are important to survival.

Usually, less than 5 percent of captured animals die. Death can be due to physical injury such as broken bones or to capture myopathy, a disease resulting from capture-related stress. Mortality rates currently are running at 7.3 percent (9 mortalities in 123 captures) at the Shawano County study site and 4.5 percent (8 mortalities in 179 captures) at the Sawyer County site.

Eight of the 17 mortalities to date have been related to helicopter capture. Necropsies will be performed on the eight to determine cause of death.

“We try very hard to handle deer carefully to minimize stress, but there is really no other way to answer the questions hunters are asking about our population estimating process that doesn’t involve capturing and marking these deer and then following them to determine how they die,” said Jacques. “Our research partners the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, Whitetails Unlimited, Safari Club International, UW-Madison, UW-Stevens Point are aware of this and we are all working to keep research losses as low as possible.
“We will continue ground trapping efforts through the end of March and at that time we’ll review all our notes and data related to both ground and helicopter trapping efforts to increase our deer trapping efficiency and reduce mortalities in future years,” said Jacques.

More inforamation on deer research studies is available on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Christopher Jacques (608) 575-3874
Source: Wisconsin DNR, Weekly News Article Published: March 1, 2011 by the Central Office

Inner city kids get archery, hunting thanks to warden

APPLETON, Wis. – The thrills of archery, scouting pheasants and simple fun outdoors have reached hundreds of inner city Milwaukee students thanks to the dedication and efforts of an honored state conservation warden.

The Wisconsin Bowhunters Association on March 5 named Gervis Myles as their Warden of the Year for 2011 during a ceremony at the group’s weekend conference in Appleton.

“Gervis’ service to the Milwaukee residents of all ages, but especially to the youth, has been outstanding,” DNR Chief Warden Randy Stark said of Myles. “For his12 years as a conservation warden, Gervis has worked hard to get the entire community interested and involved in natural resources issues – and that includes enjoying outdoor recreation.”

Myles became a warden in 1998 and has served his career to date in Milwaukee County.
“Gervis went to work immediately addressing concerns about the illegal taking of big bucks in Milwaukee-area parks,” Stark said. “He spent hours answering complaints from concerned citizens about baiting, illegal stands and the illegal harvest.”

Myles added to his warden portfolio by earning his certification in the National Archery in the Schools Program in 2006. Equipped with his instructor credentials, Myles worked with the Milwaukee-areas schools to introduce the sport to more than 700 students. When 60 middle school students wanted to give archery a try but didn’t have an adequate space, Myles converted the DNR headquarters main conference room in Milwaukee into an archery range for an afternoon.

Myles also was key in helping 32 individuals earn their archery instructor credentials in recent years to get even more children exposed to the sport.

This past year, Myles also organized a “Learn to Hunt Pheasant” outing for several Milwaukee inner city children at the DNR’s McKenzie Center in Poynette.

And, with an eye on the future, Myles also has spent time talking about natural resources careers with Milwaukee youth.

“We thank the Wisconsin Bowhunters for recognizing Gervis for his years of outstanding service to the community and the resources,” Stark said.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Rick Reed, Conservation Warden Supervisor, Waukesha – 262-574-2160 or Joanne Haas, Bureau of Law Enforcement, Madison - 608-267-0798

Source: Wisconsin DNR(