COVID-19 safety encouraged as Wisconsin's deer hunt begins

Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) say that deer hunting season is going to look and feel a little different this year -- another tradition impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We’re seeing licensed sales compared to last year are higher. Which is something I think we expected, more people wanting to get outside," said Bret Owsley with the DNR.

Wisconsinites are eager to go deer hunting this year, with more than 164,000 licenses already applied for.

"The bow, or gun, sitting in the closet dusty  -- and thinking, 'hey, this might be an opportunity to get back outdoors to where I can harvest my own healthy source of meat' sort of thing," Owsley said.

DNR officials say, though, that even out in the woods, things will be different.

"This year we’re just asking for maybe a slightly different change in behavior to where we can keep everybody safe," said Owsley.

Hunting is a social event for some, but officials stress that hunters need to keep COVID-19 safety guidelines in mind when out with their party.

Social distancing, covering your face and keeping your group limited to people who you live with are ways to stay safe.

"Being that this is the first activity that people would have done in so many months – they may be putting more stress on their heart than they’re used to," said Dr. Eben Eno with Ascension Wisconsin.

Eno said that hunting may be the most that some people will have exerted themselves in awhile. So, the risk of having a heart attack out in the woods goes up.

"Chest discomfort, nausea, some vomiting, not feeling right. If those happen, last more than two minutes that’s probably a sign that you should seek emergency medical help," Eno said.

So, be safe and have a good hunt.

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DNR officials said they are limiting the number of people they will have on-site to test deer for chronic wasting disease this season. However, they have developed ways to get your meat tested safely.

Hunters are reminded to register their deer online or by phone.

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