October 20, 2017

Our View: Safety is number-one priority in hunting

Posted

As Oct. 1 has come and gone and Nov. 15 quickly approaches, the eyes, hearts and minds

of many in Northern Michigan turn to the time-

honored tradition of the annual deer hunts.

Despite the steady decline of hunting accidents and fatalities since 1988 when the Michigan Department of Natural Resources mandated hunter safety for new hunters, it is always important to be attentive and cautious when entering and exiting the woods, and while hunting.

Annually, more than 500,000 hunters hit the woods to fill their freezer and search for the elusive monster bucks. Sportsmen and women play a vital role in the economy of our state and more especially our region, with state and federal lands dominating the tax rolls in most of our Northern Michigan counties.

The DNR estimates that every year nearly $2.3 billion is added to the state’s economy by Michigan hunters, ranking Michigan third in the nation for hunter participation.

We need hunters and we need to keep you around. Regardless of how experienced the hunter is, a refresher on hunting safety and etiquette is always a good idea.

Here are some tips to help contribute to a safe hunting season:

• Treat every firearm as if it is loaded, keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire.

• Be mindful of your surroundings. Make sure to have a clear shot, have a positive identification of your target and know what is before and beyond your target.

• Never run, jump or climb with a loaded firearm. When climbing, use a safety harness and a haul line to pull your unloaded firearm up and down from a raised hunting platform.

• Always let someone know where you will be hunting and when you plan on returning.

• During the firearm season, hunters are required to wear hunter orange that is visible from all sides; this may include camouflage if the pattern is more than 50 percent hunter orange. This requirement is also for archery hunters during the firearm season.

• Carry a fully charged cellphone that is equipped with a compass and a flashlight. Remember to turn the ringer off on your phone or set it to vibrate when you are hunting.

• Never consume alcoholic beverages or mind-

altering medicine while hunting.

Beyond safety is the importance of being respectful of other hunters and non-hunters.

• Never trespass to hunt or retrieve a deer. Instead, contact the property owner and request permission to enter their property to retrieve your game.

• Spend time in the woods leading up to the hunting season scoping out the area, looking for signs of deer activity and the activity of other hunters. Knowing your hunting area will not only increase your odds of a successful hunt, but it will also improve your ability to enter and exit the woods in the darkness, minimize the possibility of getting turned around or lost and decrease the chance of hunting in close proximity to others.

Taking a few minutes to use common sense and exercise caution will make for a more enjoyable and safe hunting excursion for everyone. Be safe and good luck.

And don’t forget to share your successful hunter photos with us. Send them to info@ogemawherald.com and we will put them in the paper.

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