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Deer hunting sees increase in 2012 season

Heidi Ross, News Writer
December 12, 2012
Filed under News

Deer hunting in Wisconsin came to an end with a spike in the number of kills registered by participating hunters for the nine-day gun hunting season.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, the number of registered kills reached nearly 250,000, exceeding the 2011 numbers by 7.7 percent. The opening weekend alone showed a 19 percent increase from the starting weekend in 2011.

Even though warmer-than-usual conditions decreased the rutting of the deer, DNR Big Game Ecologist Kevin Wallenfang said the harvest was still successful.

“We heard from hunters that they were seeing a lot of deer,” Wallenfang said.

This season also saw a surge of fresh-face hunters, contributing to an increased sale of state hunting permits. The DNR reported an addition of around 29,000 first-time purchasers for the permits and a rise in registered females and youth hunters ages 17 and younger.

DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp said hunting is a fall family tradition that is the lifeblood of Wisconsin’s culture.

“We’re passing on the tradition to new hunters and keeping our hunting heritage here thriving,” Stepp said. “Once you get the women hunting, the whole family comes along.”

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Park Ranger Kate Julian first began hunting in 2011 and said the experience was a positive one that ended in the bagging of an eight-point buck.

“Hunting wild game provides an organic, sustainable food source and was a unique experience for me,” Julian said. “Hunting gives me a new way to connect with the outdoors and others.”

Wisconsin also gave hunters with physical disabilities the opportunity to participate in the hunting season by organizing a controlled hunt near La Crosse. The hunt occurred at Hixon Forest and assisted 18 hunters with clearing spots and shooting lanes and collecting the carcasses.

Hunter Richard Burch was one of the participants and was grateful for the opportunity to do something he loves again.

“I was raised hunting, but the problems I had, I can’t get out there as often as I’d like,” Burch said. “Some people say we’re handicapped, but we’re still people.”

Although Wisconsin’s 161st deer hunting season brought the return of seasoned hunters, the DNR worked to expand the numbers of fresh hunters through more social media and general Internet approaches.

Morgan Grandinjan of Campbellsport, Wis., shot her first buck this year, a nine-pointer, and won the 2012 Wisconsin Hunting Tradition Photo Contest conducted on the DNR’s Facebook page.

Grandinjan was pictured sporting her blaze orange hunting gear — nail polish to match — surrounded by her brother, father and grandfather, constituting a hunting tradition spanning three generations.

Stepp said social media has helped everyone, hunter or tag-along, heighten anticipation for the hunt.

“It’s all about social media outreach and getting excited with them,” Stepp said. “There’s so much excitement for hunting to be a family event.”

In addition to posting videos and updates on the Facebook page, game wardens were dishing out helpful tips on Twitter, including safety reminders for guns, hunting laws and warnings about  driving and alcohol consumption while in possession of a weapon.