Let’s make this year’s nine-day hunt even safer
Living where we live, you can feel it. The ground almost quivers.
Only a couple more days until the opener, and when a hunter from Wisconsin talks about the opener, he means the gun deer season opener.
The Holy Grail of Wisconsin hunting seasons, the nine day holiday, the second largest economic event in Wisconsin, second only to Christmas. The excitement for opening morning hangs thick in the air, almost thick enough to cut.
Besides an economic boost to the economy — a boost that allows many northern Wisconsin businesses to survive the year economically — this is also one of the state’s primary revenue sources for wildlife management.
The season also provides the overwhelming majority of deer management. The hunter as the tool for management has in many cases transformed into the hunter as a manager.
Dedicated Wisconsin hunters are quite knowledgeable about the animals they hunt and the land they hunt upon. And the hunt provides a social aspect where family and friends come together for a couple days each year to catch up, renew bonds, create new memories, and enjoy the outdoors together.
Considered by many to primarily be a source of entertainment — and that may be — that source of entertainment provides organic meat for the tables of several hundred thousand families. Due to the donation of venison to food pantries through the Hunters Against Hunger programs, even families that don’t hunt can enjoy the harvest. It’s also an entertainment activity that has become safer than golf thanks to the efforts of many, mostly the hunters themselves.
Last year’s gun deer season was the safest on record. Let’s try and make this season even safer. After last season, the promise of a season with no firearm incidences is within reach — maybe even this season. When I started teaching hunters ed 30 years ago, that wasn’t the case, so thank you hunters for all your efforts to keep safety first in you hunt.
As a reminder, always follow the four main safety rules, abbreviated as TAB-K: 1. Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
2. Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
3. Be sure of your target and beyond.
4. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
Look out for those younger hunters. Don’t set them up in a situation where fatigue from cold or exertion might mean a mistake. They get a bit excited when posting by themselves and might take an ill-advised shot. A calm coach goes a long way. Sharing a stand and coaching a young hunter often means success for them as well. Dad or Grandpa or Mom or Uncle know more about getting, taking, and making a successful shot then they give themselves credit for. Experience often makes the difference. And stressing the muzzle control to young hunters reminds us older hunters that can use some reminding. A firearm-related incident can happen to anyone. It takes only a second’s lapse and your worst dreams are a reality.
Treestands are another area of concern. There are far more treestand accidents than firearm incidents now. Most come from simply not wearing a safety harness. Most falls occur just when you are getting into or out of your stand. Ladder stands account for the majority of falls, often from setting them up or taking them down, but getting in or out has hunters falling too.
A fall is usually life altering, so let’s avoid them. Use a safety harness every time you hunt from an elevated stand. Refuse to hunt from it if you forget it or something’s broke. The odds of you falling are much greater than shooting a buck of a lifetime on that sit. Post on the ground or a different spot.
Use a fall restraint system that protects while climbing. Don’t climb with packs or guns in hands or on your back – always use a pull rope. And always have three points of contact at all times with the climbing apparatus. Follow the manufacturer’s directions. Your last step into a stand should be down with hang in stands, and you should have to step up to get out. This is an information-filled paragraph that could easily be expanded into a long magazine article.
With that said, may the wind be in your face, the sun at your back, your aim true, and the steaks rare. I wish you all the luck in world on your hunt.
But please remember: “Safe Hunting is No Accident!”