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Hunting Accident File > Safe Hunting?: > 2005

WI - Two die in deer hunting accidents

(Published Monday, November 21, 2005 09:55:49 AM CST;
updated Monday, November 21, 2005 6:18:31 PM CST)

By Robert Imrie

Associated Press

WAUSAU, Wis. - The opening weekend of Wisconsin's tradition-steeped deer hunt produced some satisfied hunters but was marred by two deaths - one hunter was accidentally shot and another fell from a tree stand, authorities said Monday.

Hunters registered 161,286 deer during the first two days of the season, up about 8,000 from a year ago, according to preliminary counts, state wildlife officials said.

In northwestern Wisconsin, where a year ago six white hunters were killed by an Asian hunter following an angry, racially charged confrontation over trespassing, no serious problems occurred, said Randy Stark, chief warden for the state Department of Natural Resources.

"People really want to get back to what hunting is about and that is what people are saying. So far so good," Stark said.

The nine-day hunt opened Saturday morning and attracted about 631,000 hunters, according to license sales.

The two fatal hunting accidents occurred Saturday.

Kenneth Kloes, 44, of Lake Tomahawk, died of head injuries when he fell at least 25 feet from a tree stand on private land near Woodruff, said Clayton Kreitlow, an investigator with the Woodruff Police Department.

"He probably slipped and fell," Kreitlow said.

Dale McDowell, 66, of Danbury, was fatally shot in a state forest in the Town of Webb Lake in Burnett County as he participated in an afternoon deer drive, the DNR said. At the end of it, when McDowell's companions called for him and he did not respond, they found his body, the agency said.

There was no evidence of foul play, but the shooting remained under investigation Monday, Stark said.

There were four other firearm-related hunting accidents during the opening weekend, said Tim Lawhern, DNR hunter safety coordinator.

Two hunters, including a 15-year-old girl, suffered self-inflicted wounds, he said. The other two accidents involved hunters who were wounded in the foot or leg during deer drives in Ozaukee and Marathon counties. The shooters in both cases were firing at running deer, Lawhern said.

During last year's season, five shooting accidents occurred with one fatality, making it the safest season on record, eclipsing the previous record of 10 accidents and one fatality in 1997, Stark said.

Half of the shooting accidents historically occur during the first two days of the season, he said.

In Sawyer County, where the deadly trespassing confrontation occurred a year ago, the only complaint received by the sheriff's department involved an all-terrain vehicle going onto some paper company land where no motorized vehicles were allowed, Chief Deputy Tim Zeigle said.

"There were no calls on trespassing," he said. "From what I hear talking to hunters, there were a few less hunters. It has been quiet in all the adjoining counties too. We are all relieved that we have had no incidents."

No one hunted last weekend on the private land where the six Rice Lake area hunters were gunned down a year ago by a St. Paul, Minn., truck driver who's now serving six life prison sentences, Zeigle said.

Keith Warnke, a DNR deer expert, said hunters killed more bucks during this year's opening weekend than a year ago and fewer antlerless deer. More antlerless deer need to be killed in the remaining days of the season to keep the herd from growing too much, he said. The herd was estimated at up to 1.5 million deer going into the fall hunt.

"I've been looking at newspaper clips from around the state this morning and seeing lots of bucks, lots of big bucks and lots of smiling hunters," he said.

Del Zerbe, a clerk at St. Germain Sport Marine in Vilas County, said hunters registered 291 deer from the opening weekend, up 22 percent from a year ago.

There was a mixed mood among hunters, he said.

"They were either disgusted that they didn't hear or see anything or their whole party filled up," Zerbe said.

At Mike's Bait and Gun in Kiel, hunters registered 241 deer the first two days of the season, up slightly from a year ago, owner Mike Klaeser said.

Still, hunters reported they didn't see as many deer as they expected, Klaeser said.

On Monday, Klaeser said he registered seven bucks by noon, including one with 10 points on its antlers. "Some nice bucks, trophies," he said. "Those guys are happy."

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