More hunters out during pandemic, equipment and license sales up

Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 7:00 PM CDT
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ROTHSCHILD, Wis. (WSAW) - Hunting season is upon us and this year the Wisconsin DNR is expecting to see significantly more hunters out.

As more hunters flock to the great outdoors to hunt their game, they’re using these uncertain times to get out and away from the world’s distractions, which in turn, means more business for hunting stores.

“Everything outdoor recreation related, you know our business in shooting, archery and fishing has been quite busy this year,” Chase Outdoors Owner Justin Gaiche said.

Gaiche has owned his business for nearly six years and he says this year has been like no other, with people buying more equipment and hunting license sales up from previous years.

“I’m grateful, I love seeing new people come to this sport, whether it’s hunting or fishing or shooting because it’s awesome,” Gaiche said.

On June 29 the Wisconsin DNR told NewsChannel 7 that fishing licenses surged by nearly 100,000 from 2019 to 2020.

Just like the recent fishing season, the DNR attributes the increase in hunters and sales to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When license sales have historically started to fall, I think this year has really been telling to us what the pandemic has done and it’s increased license sales for us which means people are getting out,” Wisconsin DNR Recreation Warden Mark Little said.

Little hopes to see more families spending time outside hunting and learning the sport. However, with more hunters out, comes a safety concern.

“Folks when they’re out, they really need to understand there may be more people on the landscape than in the past, so we want to avoid user conflicts out there and just share what we have,” Little said.

At Chase Outdoors, Gaiche said with hunting equipment flying off the shelves, hunting stores all around are experiencing supply shortages.

Although, COVID-19 has brought concerns for his business throughout the pandemic that he’d rather not have.

“It’s been a strange year, it really, really has and we’ve just constantly gone through the stresses and anxieties of are we able to stay open tomorrow, what are we going to do to protect our business, protect our inventor,” Gaiche said.

The DNR also wants everyone to remember to take hunter safety courses before going out and to purchase your hunting licenses if you haven’t done so already.

Early goose and bear hunting season have already begun and archery deer hunting begins Saturday, Sept. 12.

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