Obeying rules, putting safety first emphasized by DNR officials on eve of gun deer season that includes zones in local parks
As the opening of one of the most popular Wisconsin traditions nears, State Department of Natural Resources game warden Tony Young reminds everyone how best to save lives: safety first.
“The entire goal every season of every warden is no accidents,” he said.
The gun deer season, running Nov. 21 to 30 this year, is when the most people are firing weapons at once. While hunters have taken hunter safety courses, some may have done it decades ago. Regardless, new and veteran hunters could use a refresher.
Young provides the following acronym: TABK.
T stands for “treat every firearm as if it’s loaded,” he said. A is “Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.” B is “Be certain of your target and what’s beyond.” K means “Keep your finger outside of the trigger guard until ready to shoot.”
“There’s a lot of rules and regulations people need to abide by,” Young said. “My passion for the hunting season is people are safe and nobody gets hurt. If everybody abides by those four rules, there are no accidents.”
It’s not only hunters who need to exhibit safe procedures. Anyone driving, Young said, should be on the lookout.
The rut for deer is usually around Halloween, meaning deer may run across roads more than usual. Later November is still a popular time for deer crossing streets.
“Definitely, people need to keep their head on a swivel,” he said.
The only major changes to the deer season this year, Young said, is registration, which is now done online or over the phone.
“It actually makes it easier,” he said. “Just different.”
For questions about deer hunting, Young suggested calling him at 262-993-0078.
For hunters patrolling east of Sauk Trail in the Town of Belgium, there’s another change, albeit a minor and neighborly one. The town made an addition to its ordinance in early fall that require hunters to have a permission slip from the landowner, said Town Chairman Tom Winker.
Residents voiced safety concerns at a town meeting in August, sparking the addition to the ordinance. Incidents of neighbors not agreeing on the discharge of firearms had been reported.
The concern, Winker said, is the lots east of Sauk Trail are smaller and thus have a more concentrated area of residents.
Enforcement of the ordinance is one challenge. The town doesn’t have a constable and doesn’t want to pay the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department to patrol.
“We like neighbors to police neighbors,” Winker said. “One, try to get along, and two, try to be neighborly.”
Two area parks — one state and one county — are keeping with their annual tradition to allow hunting.
In Harrington Beach State Park, muzzleloader hunting is allowed from Nov. 21 through Dec. 13, with the Dec. 10 to 13 window an antlerless hunt only. Late archery deer season runs through Jan. 3.
“The biggest thing for us out here is they know where they’re at. Get a map. They’re responsible to know,” said Carolyn Morgen, superintendent who oversees the Harrington Beach and Kohler-Andrae state parks.
All Harrington Beach State Park bulletin boards have maps, and a map rack sits outside the park office. The park encompasses about 1,000 acres, but only about one third of that may be used for hunting.
At Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve in the Town of Grafton, the park closes for the nine-day gun deer season. Only hunters are allowed inside, and only those who won the lottery are allowed to hunt. More than 50 apply, but only about 10 are issued to hunt, Andrew Struck, director of planning and parks for Ozaukee County, said.
Usually, Struck said, not all 10 hunters are in the park at the same time.
Of the park’s 73 acres, hunting occurs on about 60. But hunters roaming the adjacent 44-acre U.S. Fish and Wildlife property need to be aware, Struck said. Trails run between the park and the property, and the park polices the area to ensure no hunters come across into Lion’s Den.
Lion’s Den does not close during bow hunting season, which runs through Jan. 3.
“Our goal for allowing hunting out there is really driven (by the fact) that we’re trying to manage vegetation,” Struck said. “Some of (the deer’s) most favorite plants are some of our most prized plants in the park, like cedar trees.”
Once hunters bag their deer, Blau’s Saukville Meats is a popular destination for processing.
“Right now we’re just getting the store ready and sausage made,” owner Mark Blau said. “I need every square inch for the gun season.”
Blau said family and friends help during deer season, when the shop is regularly open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but employees still work on Thanksgiving Day.
“We do leave early but it’s still work,” Blau said.