Oconto County shooting range to reopen

The Oconto County shooting range in the Town of Morgan. (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

TOWN OF MORGAN - Modest changes are coming to the Oconto County shooting range.

The Machickanee Forest site has been closed since May, but with deer hunting season approaching, there is a push to open the range for practice.

The Oconto County Forest, Parks and Recreation Committee voted Wednesday to reopen the range on a limited basis.

Starting November 1, and ending November 20, hunters may sight-in their rifles and shotguns Thursdays through Saturdays, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

"It will be closed the day before deer-gun season, but it will be limited hours. We're going to have it supervised, so it will be open during those hours, during those specific times," said Bob Skalitzky, Oconto County Forest, Parks, and Recreation Administrator.

The range has been closed for four months, after residents complained about stray bullets damaging their property.

But before it can reopen, some work needs to be done.

The County plans to send a grant application to the Department of Natural Resources this week for $175,000. The money will go toward security cameras, and new shooting lanes with shelters.

Plans include changing the direction hunters shoot, from East, to a more North-by-Northeast. The county owns much of the land to the north, and officials are looking at buying some more.

"Behind the property is 120 private acres. This is surrounded by county forest, so even with or without the range, this 120 acres, the county would look at as potential acquisition," said Skalitzky.

People who live in the area say the upgrades will improve safety.

"If they do it correctly, and they can carry through with the idea, the people in the area will see a significant change," said Dave Behrend, Town of Morgan.

But in a couple of months, the range will be open as is, for one last season.

Oconto County hopes to get its grant application approved early next year.

Construction on reconfiguring the range could begin later in the year.

The range is located on county land in the Town of Morgan, west of U.S. 141, and north of County Highway E.