LA CROSSE, WI (WKBT) -

Nearly half a million people will head into the Wisconsin woods this weekend. The state's gun deer hunt starts Saturday.

Wildlife experts estimate the deer population to be about the same as last year and expect hunters to have similar success.

The D.N.R. made one change to the rules this year. "New this year for the hunt is that rifles will be allowed and hunters should check with their local municipalities if there's any restrictions," said D.N.R. Wildlife Biologist Ron Lichtie.

Hunters are required to wear blaze orange.

D.N.R. officials also remind hunters to treat every gun as if it's loaded, point it in a safe direction, be sure of the target and what's beyond it, and to keep their finger off the trigger until they're ready to shoot.