Wisconsin’s opening day: Balmy, by the numbers

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I always enjoy reading the updates on Wisconsin’s nine-day gun deer season, which drew 626,404 hunters afield by opening day on Saturday.

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In this WDNR photo, Tim Vandermale poses with DNR Secretary Matt Frank and his first buck at the Wautoma Skupes Corner registration station. Vandermale, a student at Michigan Tech, came home from college to hunt with his family near Coloma. He bagged his buck at 7:45 a.m. Saturday morning, according to the WDNR.

The complete opening day account is at http://dnr.wi.gov/news/BreakingNews_Lookup.asp?id=1503

But three pieces of the account are of particular note. First the weather, and a good indication that weather is always a matter of perspection:

Early dense fog dampened some areas of the state on the opening day of Wisconsin’s 2009 nine-day gun deer season, but hunters enjoyed balmy weather throughout much of the day that some thought was just a little too good. In some areas the fog didn’t burn off until mid morning. But the remainder of the day was calm, with temperatures in the 50s. One of the questions hunters were asked this year on the registration stub for the first time was to rate the weather. Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Supervisor Tim Lizotte said some hunters were giving conditions a 10 to 11 on a 10-point scale. Alan Crossley, DNR wildlife biologist also working the registration station, said it’s kind of funny. If hunters shot a nice buck, they tended to rate the weather as a ’10.’

And a real kick in the ass account of two non-fatal shooting incidents:

By late afternoon Saturday, DNR Hunter Safety Administrator Tim Lawhern had been notified of two shooting incidents, both non-fatal. A male hunter in Grant County was shot just below the buttocks, reportedly when a nearby hunter was unloading his gun. A hunter in Green County received a shotgun wound to the thigh; it was not self-inflicted. No other details were available at time of publishing.

I always enjoy looking at the breakdown of the hunters from the Wisconsin DNR. Here’s some facts and figures from the 626,404 hunters taking the field this November:

Of the hunters hitting the woods today: 592,287 (95 percent) were residents and 34,117 were nonresidents; Over 79,000 youth hunters under 18 years old participated in this year’s hunt, representing 13 percent of the total number of deer hunters; More than 54,000 hunters were age 65 or older, and over 191,000 (31 percent) are under 30-years-old; Females represent 8.5 percent of the total hunters, and 20 percent of new 10- and 11-year-old hunters; Hunters throughout the U.S. and several foreign countries purchased a Wisconsin gun deer license. The highest number of nonresident hunters came from Minnesota (16,413), Illinois (8,568), Michigan (1,078), and Florida (898); The most deer licenses were sold in Dane County (29,024), with Brown, Washington, Marathon and Waukesha counties following; More than 170,000 antlerless deer tags have been sold this year.

That Illinois number of hunters usually tops 9,000, I suspect because some Illinois numbers increase with people going to cabins and summer places for Thanksgiving holiday.

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