November 15, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

From my family to yours, have a safe, joyous and happy Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving has been celebrated in the United States since it was officially established in a 1789 proclamation issued by President George Washington. Thanksgiving has been celebrated as a national holiday since 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln, amidst a war for the nation's survival, proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. In his October 3, 1863 proclamation declaring the last Thursday of November to be Thanksgiving and, going forward, a federal holiday, Lincoln wrote, "It seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving..."

Changes to the state's "Mentored Hunting" program

This week, Wisconsin's nine-day gun-deer hunting season, a time-honored ritual for many families, commences. With opening day of the 2017 gun-dear season just days away, there are a few things to be mindful of. Chief among them is the change to Wisconsin's "Mentored Hunting" program. Act 62 (Assembly Bill 455), signed into law by Governor Scott Walker, last week, eliminates the requirement that a person who hunts under the hunting mentorship program, be at least ten-years old, and eliminates the restriction prohibiting a mentee and mentor from possessing more than one firearm between them while hunting. What is more, a mentor is prohibited from killing a deer for a mentee while group hunting. The following information regarding changes to the "Mentored Hunting" program, is important to be mindful of:

  • As of Monday, November 13, 2017, any Wisconsinite eleven years of age or younger, was able to purchase a mentored hunting license. The mentored hunting law continues to require those hunters to hunt within arm's reach of a qualified mentor.

  • The new law provides that both the mentor and mentored hunter may be in possession of a firearm, bow, or crossbow.

  • The mentored hunting license for those eleven years of age and younger can be purchased for $7.00. The license can be purchased through Go Wild, at DNR Service Centers, or at one of the many sales locations across Wisconsin.

  • As with new customers, new hunters eleven years of age and younger will need to have a Social Security Number to establish a Go Wild customer ID and purchase a license. Parents/guardians should be prepared to provide that information when making an initial license purchase for their child. Once a customer ID is established, an SSN will not need to be provided in the future.

Best of luck to all who will be participating in this year's gun-deer season, and please be safe.

Tree stand safety

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources partnered with the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation and UW Hospital and Clinics in 2014 to learn more about deer stand accidents and how to prevent them from occurring. A thorough review of medical reports found some common themes, the most important of which is that deer hunters often overestimate their ability to avoid accidents.

Surveys found that one-quarter of Wisconsin bow hunters have experienced a fall or near-fall from an elevated stand in the past. Less than half of Wisconsin deer hunters use a safety harness every time they climb. Published research posits that risky climbing and complacency become more pronounced as one becomes a more experienced hunter.

To avoid accidents, it is imperative to use a full-restraint device when hunting above the ground, regardless of whether you hunt with a ladder stand, tower stand, or hang-on stand. It would also behoove those hunting above-ground to don a full-body harness. A 2003 survey of Wisconsin gun-deer hunters showed that two-thirds of hunters who hunted from tree stands owned a harness, but less than one-third of them reported to actually using the harness. What is more, roughly one-third of hunters did not own a full-body harness.

No matter what type of tree stand you use, the following rules apply to all of them:

  • Always wear a full-body harness also known as a fall-arrest system. Connect to your tether line and keep your tether line short. The tether is designed to keep you in the seat, not to catch you after falling.

  • Always have three points of contact while climbing into and out of the tree stand: This means two hands and one foot or two fee and one hand at all times.

  • Always use a haul line to raise and lower your unloaded firearm or bow into and out of the stand. You can also use the haul for other things like a heavy backpack.

  • Use a lifeline when climbing up and down, this keeps you connected from the time you leave the ground to the time you get back down.

The following are a few additional tips to keep you safe if hunting above-ground this gun-deer season:

  • Be aware of suspension trauma: Suspension trauma can happen in less than twenty minutes and can be fatal. Attaching an additional foot strap to the body harness will take pressure off your upper legs should you fall.

  • Select a tree that is substantial enough to support your weight.

  • Read, understand and follow all the manufacturer's recommended procedures.

  • Do not alter your equipment.

  • Use a short tether between you and the tree when seated in the tree stand.

  • Let people know where you will be hunting, parking your vehicle, and your estimated return time.

  • Carry a cell phone with you so you are able to call for assistance, should you become injured as the result of a fall.

Revised Deer Hunting Tag Rules

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, in preparation for the forthcoming gun-deer hunting season, has revised its tag requirements. Gun-deer hunting this year runs from November 18-26 and is immediately followed by muzzleloader season, which runs from November 27-December 6. The newly revised tag requirements include:

  • No longer required to validate.

  • No longer required to attach the tag.

  • No longer required to keep the tag with the meat, upon processing.

For more additional details on these new Department of Natural Resources rules, please visit the Deer Tags 2017 FAQ.

2017 Wisconsin Christmas Tree selected

Governor Scott Walker announced, this week, the selection and harvest of the 2017 State Capitol Christmas tree. The forty-foot balsam fur was harvested in the Town of Emery and donated by Jim Ryf. This year's State Capitol Christmas Tree will have the added privilege of honoring the capitol's centennial with ornaments from school children across Wisconsin.

The 2017 capitol Christmas tree is being transported by Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association. It is estimated to arrive at the East Washington entrance of the Wisconsin state capitol, this week. The tree will be decorated and ready for public viewing, immediately following Thanksgiving. The Wisconsin State Capitol is open from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday-Friday and 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., on weekends. 


Have a great week,

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