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