Based on the questions we are hearing about guns, it appears that there is some false information out there. An automatic rifle or handgun will fire as long as the trigger is pulled. Incidentally, it is not legal to have an automatic gun in your possession. A semi-automatic gun will fire once when the trigger is pulled. To fire again, the trigger would have to be pulled again. Many of the guns used for hunting are semi-automatic. The semi-automatic feature allows the hunter to quickly shoot a second or third shot if the first shot is missed. Most of the semi-automatic hunting guns will hold three to five cartridges. For duck and goose hunting, a hunter is limited, by federal rule, to three shells in the gun.
Keep in mind that automatic guns are illegal to own; however, some who should not possess automatic guns do have them.
If you enjoy sports, you are aware that many statistics are maintained about baseball, football and basketball. Likewise, the DNR maintains many statistics about deer season in Wisconsin. This past deer season we saw 23,925 first-time or returning buyers purchase licenses, with 19,000 of those licenses sold to adults.
The Mentored Hunting Law has caught on with the number of licenses sold to 10- and 11-year olds. This represents an increase of 10 percent over last year.
Wardens reported that mentored hunters, youth and families in the field were some of the most satisfied hunters with their overall experience. We had several grandchildren hunting with us under the Mentored Hunting Law and would have enjoyed the season more if we had been able to see some deer. The number of licenses sold to females was increased by 10 percent this year.
The rate of hunting-related shooting injuries or fatalities for the 2012 gun deer season was 1.1 incidents per 100,000 hunters. There were seven incidents total, of which one was a fatality. This year, wardens were involved in 14 search-and-rescue situations during the gun deer season.
Wardens conduct thorough investigations to learn what happened in hunting-related shooting incidents in order to prevent such incidents in the future. Lengthy tutorial data and inquiries into the circumstances of each incident enabled wardens to make effective modifications to the hunter education curriculum.
A summary of incidents during the deer gun season showed the following. Two of the seven incidents involved self-inflicted injuries. The other five incidents involved two individuals, the shooter and victim. Of the two-party incidents, four of the five involved members of the same hunting party. Three of the incidents occurred during deer drives. The average age of shooters involved was 33 years old; two of the seven incidents involved shooters under the age of 18.
Tree stand safety continues to be part of the Wisconsin Hunter Education program, with an emphasis on the use of safety harnesses. It recommends that a hunter using a tree stand maintain three points of contact at all times. It is further recommended that haul-lines be used to bring unloaded firearms up to and down from the tree stand. Of course, before using an elevated device it should be carefully inspected. The DNR maintains a website page specific to tree stand safety.
The top hunting violation in 2012 was illegal baiting. As I have looked at the volumes of information that have been collected from the gun deer season, it is apparent that deer hunting in Wisconsin is a safe sport. The hunters who hunt from our hunting camp constantly hear from Tom and me about obeying safety rules.
The 37th annual Rhinelander Lions Club Fisheree will be held Feb. 9 and 10 on the ice of Boom Lake. Each year, this event attracts a large crowd on the ice. It is a lot of fun to see all the people, including families, gathered around a charcoal grill as they watch their tip-ups.
Longtime Northwoods outdoors personality Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.