For only the second time in Wisconsin state history, no one was killed during gun deer season except for deer.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced Tuesday gun deer season was casualty-free for the first time since 1974.
However, 12 people were injured, according to a DNR statement.
Wisconsin typically has lower fatality rates than other states during the deer hunting season, said Bob Manwell, a DNR spokesperson.
Over the past 10 years, the state has averaged 1.9 shooting deaths per year, while nationally the number is three per year, Manwell said.
Manwell added a lot of credit goes to the thousands who volunteer to teach public gun safety courses.
Credit also goes to the hunter safety course the DNR has required hunters born after 1973 to take, which has educated more than one million people in the past few decades, Manwell said.
The courses have a strong safety component, and the drop in the number of fatalities has been a result of the cumulative effect of these courses, Manwell said.
“It’s premature to say that we are never going to have any casualties ever again,” Manwell said. “But overall it’s been a very good year.”
Hunting accidents typically happen with hunters over the age of 35 who are not required by law to take the hunting education courses, Tim Lawhern, a DNR hunter education administrator and conservation warden, said in a statement.
Ultimately, nearly all hunting accidents are linked to a violation of one or more of the four basic rules of firearm safety, Lawhern said.
Hunters should treat every firearm as if it is loaded, never point their firearms at another person, never put their finger in the trigger until they are ready to shoot and know what is behind their target, Lawhern said.
Besides taking the hunting safety courses and learning the four basic rules of firearm safety, hunters are also required to wear blaze orange clothing, said Tom Heberlein, a hunting expert and professor at the University of Wisconsin.
The number of injuries in Wisconsin has also dropped significantly over the years. The year before hunter education began in Wisconsin, Lawhern said, the accident rate was 44 injuries for every 100,000 hunters.
Now, only 12 injuries were reported by over 600,000 hunters, Lawhern said.
“However, any shooting incident is one too many,” Lawhern said.