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A few extra precautions added to deer camp this year

A few extra precautions added to deer camp this year A few extra precautions added to deer camp this year

The so-called Holy Grail of Hunting Seasons starts Saturday, the nine-day holiday, the second largest economic event in the state of Wisconsin, second only to Christmas – the Wisconsin Gun Deer Season.

We are asked to have virtual deer camps this year. Oh, that sounds like a lot of fun. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an “anti-mask, there ain’t no virus” type. I see the effects of the virus on people’s lives — some lost — and the health care system every day. It’s real and we need to be smart and careful.

We set up some rules for this year’s camp. We mostly spend time together around the campfire, which is good. We will keep our distance, wear masks if inside, wash hands a lot, separate households will sleep separately, and if you are sick or don’t social distance prior to camp, you stay away.

Gun deer hunting in Wisconsin is a social event. And, when people hunt together, communication is part of safe hunting. Plan your hunt and hunt your plan is part of safe hunting. Planning involves communication.

We plan where we will post, when to move, what time to break for lunch. It’s hard to do that if we don’t meet to talk. Where does everyone sleep, eat, etc? It’s a lot to process. But the only safe hunt is a good hunt and that includes the camp interaction this year.

Once we do make it to the woods, remember the Four Main Safety Rules: T – Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.

A – Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.

B – Be sure of your target and beyond.

K – Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

Follow these four rules to the letter and you will never be the cause of a hunting incident. Insisting that those you hunt with do the same goes a long way towards you not getting shot.

Be proactive and positive about the safety of the hunt. An old hunters ed instructor friend of mine always said that his group would look at each other and remind everyone to be safe at the start of the hunt. Good advice that helps temper the excitement of the young hunters.

Wear orange and a lot of it. Right now about the only time I see hunters’ wearing the minimum amount of blaze is on the hunting shows by the so-called professionals. You might be surprised to learn how many have been the cause of a hunting incident. Don’t follow their example; the orange you wear is for your protection — not the other guy. An orange hat saved my life 26 years ago, I haven’t forgotten that lesson. Please take that it to heart. Be a patient teacher for the young hunters and the older hunters. Look out for them. Watch for signs of fatigue. If you see it, suggest a rest “to catch your breath” it’ll give them time to do so. Maybe carry their pack or firearm. Young hunters also get cold and, just like when they are tired, cold hunters aren’t thinking about muzzle control as much as getting feeling back in their hands and feet. Hand warmers help.

Stress to them to never shoot at sound or movement. They must see the whole animal and pick the exact spot at which to aim. Tell them to stay calm. Tell yourself that when the 30 pointer shows up as well. You don’t want to end up like the “no-good brother-in-law from Illinois.”

Remember treestands statistically are what injures most hunters nowadays. Proper set up is important. Wearing a climbing and safety harness are a must. Three points of contact at all times. Always use a pull rope for bringing weapons and packs into the stand and out.

I’ve heard all the excuses and caught all the sideway glances from guys, some friends, that think instructors are full of it, especially on the pull ropes and climbing harnesses.

But I’ve taken care of more than one patient that thought the same a day or two prior, and because of it will never walk again – and I’ve seen their tears. One in four hunters will fall from a treestand in their hunting career, you can’t outrun that statistic — I hope you are wearing a safety harness if your number comes up.

Review the new rules. Enjoy your hunt. I wish you all the luck in the world and please remember that “Safe Hunting is No Accident!”