Wisconsin wildlife officials say shooting-related hunting accidents are relatively rare and are mostly the result of basic firearm safety mistakes.
Department of Natural Resources records show 28 hunting incidents in 2012, Post-Crescent Media reported Wednesday. The 10-year average is 30 incidents.
Most of the incidents were attributed to gun-deer hunting, squirrel hunting and turkey hunting. Four people were killed, including a 50-year-old man who died after his crossbow apparently went off as he was preparing to haul it into his tree stand.
So far in 2013 the state has seen 18 incidents, including one Marathon County squirrel hunter who was killed.
About half of the incidents in the past two years involve deer drives and members of the same hunting parties who misidentified targets. One DNR report chronicled how a 53-year-old Appleton hunter looking for squirrels in Waushara County last year put a .22-caliber bullet through his friend’s left leg after apparently thinking his friend was a squirrel.
“The shooter saw what he thought was a squirrel upon looking at the object with his scoped rifle, then thought it was a possum. When the subject looked at the object a third time he thought it was a turkey,” a DNR summary of the incident said. “He put the gun down and thought about it and looked a fourth time and thought it was a squirrel and then shot. The shooter then heard the victim yell, ‘You shot me!”‘ The victim was treated at Appleton Medical Center and released.
Wisconsin’s nine-day gun-deer season opens Saturday. Todd Schaller, the DNR’s chief conservation warden, urged hunters to communicate when planning drives.
“We continue to see ‘same-party’ incidents where two buddies or a group are hunting together and violate a basic rule of firearm safety,” Schaller said. “A lot of them could be prevented by planning out a hunt and sticking to that plan and knowing where your companions are located at all times.”
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