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Farmers asked to help vets in deer hunt

Wisconsin service members deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan during the 2009 deer hunting season could have an opportunity to catch-up this year.

The Department of Natural Resources seeks to match vets with state farmers who have agricultural deer damage shooting permits.

"Last year, Wisconsin had the largest operational deployment of our National Guard since World War II. More than 4,000 Wisconsin soldiers and airmen performed dangerous missions in service to our country," Gov. Jim Doyle said. "These newest combat veterans missed what is a lifelong tradition for many -- the fall deer hunt. With the help of state farmers, that's a problem we can fix."

"Farmers are in a unique position to offer a hunting opportunity to returning soldiers," said DNR Secretary Matt Frank. "We've invited farmers who hold deer damage tags to share some of those tags with soldiers and we're working with the National Guard to get the word out to returning soldiers."

An invitation has been sent to several hundred farmers across the state enrolled in the deer damage program asking them to consider sharing deer damage tags with returning soldiers. The program is completely voluntary. So far, 95 soldiers have expressed interest in hunting; nine farmers have volunteered a total of 50 tags for the program, and DNR has been able to match 22 of them up.

Deer damage tag holders can contact the DNR call center toll-free at (888) 936-7463 or contact Laurie Fike at with their name, county, deer shooting permit number and the number of tags they would like to share. The call center is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

Interested soldiers should also contact the call center.