Hunters, Be Sure It’s a Deer in Your Gun Sights and Not A Protected Animal

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Gray Wolf - WDNR PhotoMADISON – Hunters across the state will be looking to place a white-tailed deer in their crosshairs starting Nov. 22 with the opening of the 2008 Wisconsin Gun Deer Season. But with that privilege comes a responsibility to be absolutely sure of your target and to know what is legal game…and what isn’t.

Hunters always need to follow the four rules of safety when handling a firearm to make sure they do not endanger themselves, other hunters, or other people recreating in the outdoors:

  • T= Treat every firearm as if it is loaded. Consider all guns are always loaded – until you determine the firearm is not.
  • A= Always point the muzzle in a safe direction. Never allow the muzzle point at anything you are not ready to destroy – that means keeping your firearm pointed in a safe direction at all times.
  • B= Be certain of your target and what’s beyond it. Make sure you know your target – what it is, what is in the line of fire and what is behind it.
  • K= Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot. 

In addition, they need to clearly identify animals they are pursuing in the field, and know what rules are in place where they are hunting. Mistakes in identification can be costly.

Coyote - WDNR PhotoCoyote hunting is closed in approximately the northern third of the state during the Nov. 22-30 gun deer season and the Dec. 1-10 muzzleloader deer season, remind wildlife officials. Check the 2008 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations or 2008 Small Game Regulations for the southern boundary of this special closed area. This closure is in place to avoid hunters misidentifying a gray wolf for a coyote. Wolves were recently relisted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as endangered species in Wisconsin.

But wildlife officials caution there has also been an increase in wolf sightings in the southern third of the state, where they coyote season remains open. Officials caution that there could be wolves in any part of Wisconsin and hunters should be careful not to mistake a protected wolf for an unprotected coyote.

Elk - WDNR PhotoElk
Hunters in the area of Clam Lake need to be certain they are pulling the trigger on a deer and not one of Wisconsin’s protected elk. The reintroduced herd has grown from 25 elk released in 1995 to a current estimate of 150 this fall. The herd’s current range includes portions of Bayfield, Sawyer and Ashland counties [].

Elk are native to Wisconsin but were extirpated in the mid to late 1800s due to unregulated hunting and a rapid decline in habitat following settlement. Elk were last recorded in Wisconsin in the 1886 and historic records show elk once inhabited at least 50 of the state’s 72 counties.

Although numbers are very, very small, moose are now being recorded in Wisconsin with increasing regularity. The largest of Wisconsin’s native members of the deer family, moose are also a protected animal.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Van Haren – – (608) 266-3244