2022 Hunter Education Report

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Hunting today is remarkably safe and has been getting increasingly safer. Wisconsin recorded 264 Negligent Discharge (ND) incidents in 1966, but only 12 in 2021, a 95% decline. That means the state went from 44 NDs per 100,000 hunters in 1966 to 0.15 per 100,000 in the past three years.

Wisconsin made hunter education mandatory for people born in 1973 and later and for all hunters seeking to hunt outside the state. By 1985 the rate of NDs was 12 per 100,000 hunters, dropping to 7 per 100,000 in 2000. Wisconsin’s 2019 gun Deer Season had 564,664 licensed deer hunters with a total of four reported shootings. Three of these injuries were negligent discharges where the hunter injured himself, and one involved a hand injury where a hunter’s negligent discharge injured a member of his hunting party. This puts the injury ratio at 1:141,166, or 0.0007%. 99.9993% of Wisconsin’s hunters in 71 counties took to the field and woods with loaded firearms in pursuit of deer for nine days without incident.

By contrast, golf routinely suffers 180 injuries per 100,000 golfers.

Data compiled by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources since 2007 show that older hunters cause most NDs throughout Wisconsin’s hunting seasons. It’s not age at issue, it’s the fact that these older hunters either don’t attend hunter education or other firearm safety/training courses or have a very large lapse of education.

Over the 14 most recent hunting seasons, hunters 17 and younger typically caused less than 20% of the NDs. According to the DNR’s 2021 hunter-education report (https://widnr.widen.net/s/ddqphtxfv9/he_annual-report_2021), 67% of the 2021 NDs were 41 or older. More specifically, 42% were 61 or older, 8% were 51 to 60, and 17% were 41 to 50.

The patterns are fairly consistent. The DNR’s 2007 report showed hunters 40 and older caused 66% of the 27 hunting incidents. Of those, the riskiest group was 40- to 49-year-olds, with 30% of the NDs; followed by 50- to 59-year-olds, 22%, and 60 and older, 14%. Five years later, the DNR reported 28 NDs during the 2012 fall hunts, with hunters 40 and older causing 58% of the incidents. And five years after that, the DNR reported 22 NDs, with hunters 40 and older causing 55% of the NDs in 2017.

Matt O’Brien, the DNR’s deputy chief warden, said 33% of NDs in 2021 were by hunters that weren’t required to attend the state’s hunter education course and never took it, which has been mandatory for everyone born since 1973. That means hunters now 50 and older still don’t have to take the program, which might help explain why the average age of ND incidents in 2021’s hunting incidents was 51. And for hunters who did take the course but had an ND incident, the average time lapse between their education and the ND was 20 years.

O’Brien said it’s grown harder for the DNR to connect with older hunters, and harder yet to not make them feel persecuted by suggesting remedial training.

“The challenge is how best can we reach hunters in that age group,” O’Brien said. “With all the options on the internet, from social media to podcasts, we can’t just create one public-service ad, play it on local radio stations, and assume we’re reaching 90% of our hunters. And even if we could, not everyone will believe they’re complacent about firearms safety. Or they might take it personally and resent the message. In some ways, it’s like telling senior citizens they have to requalify for their driver’s license. It’s not an easy conversation.”

Education remains vital. Since launching its training program in 1967, Wisconsin has fielded over 16,700 volunteer instructors over the past 55 years. O’Brien is concerned, however, by steady declines in instructor numbers, which fell 19% in 2021 (3,200 to 2,600); and 35% from 2012 to 2021 (4,000 instructors to 2,600).

Read the full article by Patrick Durkin

Graubünden Jäger: Swiss Hunter-Shooters

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This video is a fine example of how much more serious and skilled hunters in Europe are compared to Americans.

Let’s just pause to consider this: In Switzerland, animal rights activists are mad at hunters because their marksmanship tests aren’t rigorous enough and they want them to do more practice on the range! Marion Theus, president of the Swiss Wildlife Conservation Association, says the already-mandatory hunter marksmanship tests are too easy to pass, should be more frequent, and should use ammunition reminiscent of the recoil/muzzle energy actually used in hunting. Georg Brosi, Hunt Inspector for the canton of Graubünden, agrees. Let’s also consider that Swiss hunter-shooters consider it common to practice on electronic targets. How many hunter sight-ins in the States have you seen using something similar?

I’d like to share their opinion about current U.S. military range qualifications with current leadership!

Hunter Safety Report

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Wisconsin’s 2019 gun Deer Season closed recently. Of the state’s 72 counties, 71 allow hunting. During the nine-day 2019 Deer Season (November 23 – December 1) 564,664 licensed hunters legally pursued big game with firearms. 160,569 deer were legally harvested.

During the nine-day hunt, there were a total of four reported shootings among all 71 counties. Three of these injuries were negligent discharges where the hunter injured himself, and one involved a hand injury where a hunter’s negligent discharge injured a member of his hunting party.

This puts the injury ratio at 1:141,166, or 0.0007%. 99.9993% of Wisconsin’s hunters in 71 counties took to the field and woods with loaded firearms in pursuit of deer for nine days without incident.

The National Safety Council had previously reported twenty years ago that deer hunting typically saw seven injuries per 100,000 participants, making it slightly safer than table tennis (ping pong) and about twenty times safer than golf.


Current trends indicate hunting continues to get even safer.

Wisconsin’s 2019 data indicates this continued increase in safety is still improving and hunters are even safer than ever, going from about seven incidents per 100,000 to one incident per 141,166.

Milwaukee is Wisconsin’s lone county disallowing hunting. During that same nine-day period, Milwaukee county reported 25 people were shot, including seven murders. Good thing they banned hunting!

Top 5 Shooting Mistakes Hunters Make (And How to Fix Them)

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There are some good points made in this article:

However, this opening statement is odd.

Once I fired three consecutive bullets into a 4-inch circle at 1,000 yards and fancied myself quite the marksman. Then I missed a bull moose at 150 yards. Apparently, shooting targets isn’t the same as shooting game.

Shooting with extreme precision, even when done at long range, is certainly challenging and helps develop a refined shot process but it probably does not incorporate a number of important elements useful in a field environment. The problem is not that shooting targets is different than shooting game, it’s that many (most?) hunters put little or no effort into making their range shooting at targets into an exercise that more closely mimics their field shooting at game. Sort of like a person participating in their first 5K Run claiming that gym time is useless while ignoring the fact their exercise plan included no running before the race.

The correct assessment here is range exercises that don’t work field shooting parameters into the mix are not like shooting game.

Shooting Running Game

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Shooting at running game used to be a standard part of the American hunter’s skill set. The guns they carried—lever actions, old semi-autos like the Remington Model 8, and sporterized military turn-bolts—excelled at this task.

We live in a different world today. The mere mention of shooting at running game during a hunter’s ed class would induce chest-gripping seizures among the gray-haired corps of instructors. I get why this is, but those old skills, like many other traditional exercises in woodsmanship, have atrophied and our hunting culture is the poorer for it.

We had to take a shooting test the day before our hunt in order to be allowed to participate. We shot a running boar target at 100 meters, going left to right and right to left, and had to go five for five in the vitals to pass and get a hunting license.

The shooting isn’t difficult with the right technique. Your mom would be happy to know the key is good posture and standing up straight. The goal is to have a smooth, even swing so you can track the target, establish the correct lead, and pull the trigger. Standing straight minimizes the vertical wobble of the barrel and lets you focus on the horizontal motion of the rifle. If you hunch over in a quasi-tactical stance, you’ll have less control over your muzzle. Do some dry-fire practice and see for yourself. Learning the right lead is a matter of time in the field. A good rule of thumb is to put your vertical crosshair in line with the boar’s ear, but, as with wingshooting, there are too many variables to give a single correct answer. No matter what, good trigger control and follow-through are critical. Keep that barrel moving after the shot.


Great article! Ranges for hunters need more moving and reactive targets shot from field positions and less bench rests. See the Monolith of Medicore for more details.

We had to take a shooting test the day before our hunt in order to be allowed to participate. We shot a running boar target at 100 meters, going left to right and right to left, and had to go five for five in the vitals to pass and get a hunting license.

This is the most important part. Notice how these hunters set up relevant shooting tests on the range to confirm skills before going after living game. Americans hunters need to do likewise.

I’ve observed hunters shooting on the range for whom any shot at game at any distance and circumstance would have been unethical… A shot taken with a high hit percentage is ethical. “High hit percentage” is dependent upon the skill of the individual attempting that shot. One of the goals of HunterShooter events is to help hunters identify what constitutes high hit percentage for them. Participants at HunterShooter events can evoke the Decline rule on any given Scenario. At such an event, all participants shoot all targets but don’t incur Miss penalties on Declined targets.

The idea is to practice learning what constitutes a high percentage shot (and what does not…) Like the hunters in the article here, they learn if the can or can’t pull off a given attempt on the range at a high percentage before trying it in the field.

Schools Adds Hunter Education to Curriculum

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Both the North Butler and Clarksville Community School Districts will deliver a mandatory hunter safety course in the 7th and 8th grade PE curriculum reports Radio Iowa. Students in grades 9 through 12 will be given a chance to take voluntary classes.

“What we do best is educate our kids,” said Superintendent Joel Foster. “We feel if we educate our kids in how to use weapons responsibly, how to respect them, understand it’s not a video game and those sort of things, that maybe we’ll cut down on our chances of having a severe incident.”

Parents who do not want their children participating in the training can opt out of the class.

Deer Hunting Is Getting Safer


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports on the results of Wisconsin’s gun deer season.

Wisconsin’s 2018 gun deer-hunting season was safest on record

With three non-fatal shooting injuries, the 2018 Wisconsin gun deer season set a record for hunter safety, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

“We’re going to call it the state’s safest gun deer season ever,” said Jon King, DNR conservation warden and hunter safety coordinator.

The 2018 gun deer season ran Nov. 17 to 25. Although the agency has not released a final tally of gun deer license sales, it is expected about 570,000 hunters were authorized to participate.

Prior to this season, the DNR considered 2014, with four non-fatal shooting injuries, the safest.

There has been a long-term trend toward fewer shooting incidents in Wisconsin gun deer hunting seasons, especially since hunter safety education was made mandatory in 1985.

In step with these changes, the shooting accident rate in the gun deer season was 10.6 incidents per 100,000 participants in 1985, 4.8 in 1995 and about 0.5 in 2018.

The DNR is investigating the three incidents that occurred this year.

The first took place 1:30 p.m. Nov. 18 in Marcellon Township of Columbia County where a 24-year-old shooter participating in a deer drive shot at a running deer but struck the victim, a 23-year-old male, in the foot. The men were members of the same hunting party. The victim was treated at a local hospital.

The second occurred about 5 p.m. Nov. 18 in the Village of Colfax in Dunn County. In this case, a 21-year-old male who was not wearing blaze orange was working on his downed deer when he was hit in the arm by a bullet from a 17-year-old shooter who thought the victim was a deer. The victim was transported to a hospital and released.

The last was recorded at noon Nov. 25 in Sauk County. A 39-year-old male had stopped hunting and was unloading his firearm, a handgun, when it discharged and the bullet struck him in the palm, King said. The victim was treated for the wound and released.

This all occurred with an increase in total tagged deer during the season:

Hunters registered 211,430 deer during Wisconsin gun deer season, up 7% from 2017

This is in line with trends over the past decades:



Target Angle and Hunting

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Shot placement is arguably the most important component of field marksmanship, right after having the experience to know when a given shot opportunity is high percentage for you.

Two articles you must review before getting ready for fall hunting season:



Hunter Drills

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List of useful articles on shooting drills for hunters:








Free Hunter Education Course

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This NRA Online Hunter Education course is designed to help new hunters of all ages learn how to be safe and responsible members of the hunting community. From the organization that built the first-ever hunter education program in 1949, this state-of-the-art course is the most comprehensive online hunter education instruction in the United States…and it’s 100% FREE

From John Tate:
In 1949, the NRA introduced the first Hunter Safety Course. Over time, it has grown in scope; but the central theme remains safe handling and use of firearms.

Now, exploiting electronic connectivity, this course is available for FREE over the internet. Of the four options, each may have some state-specific content; but the essentials of firearm safety are universal so any course will do.

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