Whitetails Unlimited Urges Hunters to be Smart and Safe This Season
Everyone going hunting should review, and follow, hunting and gun safety rules.
Wisconsin – -(AmmoLand.com)- Millions of hunters will take to the woods this fall in pursuit of north America’s favorite big-game animal, the white-tailed deer. Whitetails Unlimited is encouraging all hunters to be smart, and be safe during the hunting season.
“Statistically, hunting is a very safe activity,” said WTU Executive Director Pete Gerl. “However, every year there are some tragic accidents during deer season. The real tragedy is that in the vast majority of cases, accidents are preventable if everyone followed basic hunting and gun safety rules.”
If you are one of the millions of hunters who take to the woods in pursuit of white-tail deer this fall, take a few minutes to review basic safety information that will ensure that everyone enjoys the hunt safely.
Handle all firearms as if they were loaded, at all times.
Every year there are accidents where someone thought they were handling an unloaded firearm, and it fires and injures or kills someone. Always consider every firearm to be loaded, and treat it accordingly.
Watch where you point the muzzle of every firearm.
This takes diligence and awareness, but it is a skill that can be quickly developed. Always be aware of where other people are in relation to your muzzle, and let your hunting partners know if they are not being as careful as you are. It is easy to lose concentration when everyone is uncasing their guns at the back of the pickup, or when you are tired at the end of the day. Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
Don’t rely on your firearm’s safety.
A safety is a mechanical device, and it could fail at any time. Use it religiously except when you are ready to fire, but never assume that because the safety is on, you are 100 percent safe. Unload the firearm when not in use, and leave the action open, if possible. Also, after you shoot, before you do anything else, put the safety on.
Be sure of your target, and what is in front of, and behind your target.
It is easy to get excited when you see that big buck, but first make sure that it is really a deer, and that it is safe to shoot. Make sure there are no buildings, people, or roads behind the deer that would be in danger if you miss or the bullet passes through the animal. If you are not 100 percent sure of where your hunting companions are, or if there isn’t enough light or a clear sight line to the target, pass up the shot. You will get another chance at a deer, but sending a bullet out of your barrel without being sure of your target and background is an invitation to disaster.
Take care of your firearms and ammunition, and treat them with respect.
Don’t just grab a gun and some ammo that have been stored for months as you leave the house the morning of your hunt. Spend some time to make sure your equipment is in good shape. Take it out before the hunt to check the sights or scope. Make sure the barrel is not obstructed and that the action works properly. Make sure the ammunition matches the firearm. Never horseplay with firearms, and never climb a fence, ladder, tree or tree stand, or cross difficult or slippery terrain with a loaded firearm. Also remember that you can set the example for everyone in your group, especially for younger hunters.
Be safe if you are using a tree stand.
Never climb into the stand carrying your weapon. Unload your weapon and use a line to pull your gun or bow up after you have fastened your safety harness (remember to reload after you are settled). Reverse the process when you leave the tree stand. Always unload the weapon, and always use a safety harness or belt.
Control your emotions.
After you shoot that 10-pointer, don’t turn with your loaded firearm, with the safety off, toward your friends. Don’t run to the downed animal, or chase off into someone else’s firing lane. Rehearse in your mind what safe actions will be, and always be aware of your surroundings. Show some discipline and restraint, and don’t let your emotions force you to take poor shots that may be unsafe.
Be aware of any other circumstances that may affect safety.
If the landowner tells you to stay out of an area, respect his directions. Rain, fog, snow or sleet may reduce visibility or create hazardous conditions. Use common sense, and remember that a tragic accident can be the result of taking chances.
Never mix alcohol or drugs with firearms.
The first drink of the day is the end of the hunting day, no matter what time it is. Forget the eye-opener, the flask “to keep you warm,” or the pick-me-up with lunch, and don’t tolerate drinking (or drugs) from anyone you hunt or shoot with. Alcohol and guns are a deadly combination. Before you have that beer with dinner at night, make sure all firearms are already unloaded, cleaned and cased. In addition, if you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications that may affect your judgment or make you drowsy, anxious, or otherwise impaired, check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if there is an alternative.
Safety does not end when you leave the woods.
Even if you are tired, cold and hungry when you get home, safety is still the first priority. Before anything else, store your firearms and ammunition in a safe place, separate from each other and out of the reach of children. Then call your friends to come see your deer, take a hot shower, and get a decent meal. You’ve earned it.
Remember that hunting is a process, not a destination. No deer is worth risking your life or someone else’s. There are friends, family, and other people in the woods with you, and a successful hunt is not really measured in points and pounds, but in fellowship and appreciation of our natural world.
Founded in 1982, Whitetails Unlimited is a national nonprofit conservation organization. Our mission is to raise funds in support of education, habitat enhancement and acquisition, and the preservation of the hunting tradition for the benefit of the white-tailed deer and other wildlife. When it comes to the whitetail and its environment, WTU’s degree of professionalism and dedication has earned us the reputation of being the nation’s premier whitetail organization.