Deer Hunt

Dylan Petersen, left, and Reuben Blanchard, both of Eau Claire, head out to deer hunt Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011 in Eau Claire, Wis. State wildlife officials say this year's gun-deer hunt got off to a promising start, with hunters bringing in a steady stream of bucks and does throughout the early part of the day. (AP Photo/The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, Dan Reiland)

Dan Reiland

State officials recorded only six gun-related hunting injuries and no fatalities during the nine-day gun-deer hunting season that ended Sunday.

That marks two consecutive years without a single gun-related deer hunter fatality in Wisconsin.

Last season was the first since 1974 to go without a fatality, according to data from the state Department of Natural Resources.

DNR Recreation Enforcement and Education Section chief Todd Schaller credited the state's hunters with ensuring a relatively safe hunting season.

He said hunter education courses - which became mandatory in 1985 for hunters born after Jan. 1, 1973 - and DNR safety outreach efforts have played a significant role.

"I think the biggest thing is just the education," Schaller said Monday. "The fact that we're on this downward trend is great, but hopefully one day we'll have a season in which there were no injuries."

Incidents were reported in the counties of Shawano, Waukesha, Clark and Polk, and two in Iowa County. None were reported in Sauk County.

There were 12 injuries reported statewide last season.

The DNR tracks only gun-related incidents. Statistics do not show hunter injuries or fatalities due to falls from tree stands, heart attacks or other causes.

In Monroe County, a man told investigators he was target shooting when he leaned his firearm against a post. It fell over and discharged, he said, shooting him in the arm.

Monroe County Sheriff Peter Quirin said the man was seriously injured, and that his department is investigating the incident. Although the person who notified authorities initially reported the incident as a hunting-related shooting, it won't be recorded as such in state data.

"He wasn't hunting," said Quirin, adding that the injured man may face charges. "Because he's a felon, he wasn't even supposed to have a gun."

The DNR also does not track certain incidents in which there were no injuries, such as complaints about hunters on private property.

An unusual case this season involved a property owner in Columbia County who took matters into his own hands when he learned of hunters on his land.

The DNR reported that the man drove the hunters out by riding up to them in a golf cart with a boom box blaring loudly.

It turned out the hunters were technically on DNR property that was open for hunting within the city of Portage.

However, because of a city ordinance, they would not have been permitted to kill an animal on the property.

"It's going to sound weird, but they can lawfully hunt there; they just can't lawfully discharge a firearm on the property," said Dave Holmes, a DNR warden supervisor.

He said the verbal altercation that ensued was resolved and the two parties were separated. No charges were filed.