Deer hunter who died of gunshot wound loved family, outdoors
Christopher J. Kealy, 36, was found dead in a wooded area west of Janesville after family members reported him missing when he didn’t return home from a hunting trip.
Kealy had children ages 7, 8 and 10 and worked at the General Motors plant for 14 years, said his brother, Charles Kealy.
Christopher was raised in Janesville and graduated from Craig High School in 1991, Charles said.
Christopher helped coach his son’s football team and often took his kids to the zoo or a lake during his free time, Charles said.
“He loved spending time with his kids,” he said.
Christopher hunted deer, pheasant, turkey and duck, said his stepsister, Jenny Sturm. He also had a yellow Labrador retriever named Reva.
Christopher enjoyed music and had recently seen the Dave Matthews Band and Jack Johnson live in concert, Charles said.
“He was a great guy, always smiling, always happy,” Charles said. “People liked to be around him. He was fun.”
People who knew Christopher loved him, Sturm said.
“He has a lot of friends,” she said. “It’s been overwhelming since he passed away how many friends have called to offer anything.”
Family members reported Christopher missing at 12:58 p.m. Sunday after not seeing him since Friday night, Rock County Sheriff’s Office officials said. Christopher had gone hunting alone on Saturday.
Deputies went to the area of Fitzsimmons Road and Graham Drive in Janesville Township to search for Christopher and found his vehicle.
Rock County and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials searched the area.
Christopher was found dead at 2:08 p.m., lying on the ground near a tree stand, Cmdr. Tom Gehl said. A gun was found nearby.
The death is consistent with a hunting accident, he said.
An autopsy was done Monday.
Investigators don’t believe alcohol was a factor.
The death remains under investigation, Gehl said.
The death followed two non fatal shooting incidents reported Saturday, according to the DNR.
A hunter in Green County received a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the thigh, and a hunter in Grant County was shot below the buttocks when a nearby hunter was unloading his gun, according to the DNR.
The death and shootings highlighted the opening weekend of the nine-day gun deer season.
About 626,000 hunters went out statewide, according to the DNR. Of those, about 9,500 were 10- and 11-year-olds hunting for the first time under the new mentorship law.
Hunters in Rock and Walworth counties had temperatures in the 50s all weekend.
In Rock County, Penny Coppers of Milton Bait & Tackle said she registered more than 110 deer during the weekend.
“Some guys are seeing deer, and there are a lot that aren’t,” she said. “I’ve registered a lot of fawns, bucks, a few does, but some guys aren’t seeing deer.”
Peggy Jenson of Footville Meat Market said she registered 68 deer. Most of the deer have been does, but she has seen some nice bucks.
“It’s been chaotic,” she said. “People just keeping coming.”
Audra Bair of Goodspeed Gas N Go in Evansville registered 50 to 100 deer. She said hunters reported seeing one or two deer before the one they shot.
In Walworth County, 16 deer were registered in Delavan by about noon on opening day, the DNR reported.
Hunters were registering bucks in Whitewater on Saturday, the DNR reported.
Hunters in East Troy saw groups of moving deer Saturday, and more than 20 deer were registered by midday, according to the DNR. A 10-year-old also shot a buck a few minutes after the season began.
Wardens statewide wrote citations for illegal baiting, loaded firearms in vehicles and other violations, according to the DNR. No serious violations were reported.