Deer season safety tips
This Saturday, a half hour before sunrise, the Holy Grail of Wisconsin’s hunting season begins. The nine day holiday, is the second largest economic event of the year. It is second only to Christmas in Wisconsin, exceeding even Super Bowl party spending in years that the Packers go to the Super Bowl (and it doesn’t look that is happening this year).
Almost 600,000 hunters will take to the woods hoping for a chance at the 30 point buck. On Saturday we become a force to be reckoned with; we become one of the largest wildlife management forces in the nation and one of the largest armed forces in the world. As hunters we not only control the population of whitetail deer in our state, but we gladly pay for the right to do so. And we also pay the lion’s share of wildlife management in the state. I know I say this almost every year, but it bears repeating.
Deer hunting will never be without certain issues. Right now it’s CWD, crossbows, no registration stations, and concern over hunters not registering deer. It’s because we’re passionate about hunting. Even the violators are passionate.
For the next couple of weeks we forget about all that and celebrate the hunt. We focus our attention on the time we spend with family and friends in pursuit of venison. A few will tag out on a buck of their dreams, many will put meat in the freezer, and all will create memories.
I’m hoping for fresh venison tenderloin on Saturday around the campfire. We’ll toast the hunt with fine scotch. The roaring fire chases away the chill from the night air. Deer camp truly is one of the “best times of the year.”
Our state’s conservation officers and our local Hunters Ed instructors ask that you keep safety in mind while hunting these next nine days. Hunting ranks far below golf for injuries per capita, but one incident is too many.
Keep the four main safety rules (TABK) in your mind and follow them.
1) Treat every firearm as if it was loaded.
2) Always point the firearm in a safe direction.
3) Be sure of your target and what is beyond.
4) Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
Provide younger hunters with guidance and watch for fatigue. It leads to safety lapses. They get cold faster increasing fatigue. Know your own limits and know when to take a break and rest, or call it a day and rest up for the next day. And if someone isn’t hunting safe and doesn’t change their actions when you point that out, get yourself out of the situation.
Wear a safety harness if you plan to use a treestand. There are far more treestand falls than firearm incidents and they will truly alter your life forever. One out of every four hunters that hunts from a treestand will fall sometime in their hunting career. A few years ago that was one in three so we are getting better as a group. You want to be the hunter that wore their safety harness, not the hunter wearing a mechanical halo in traction.
Don’t forget alcohol, guns, and treestands don’t mix. Every time I have to say that I’m reminded of a sign at one of the sporting clay ranges I shoot at that reads: “No Alcohol Before or While Shooting – This Means Beer Too!” You know that had to involve a bachelor party. Gun deer hunters have enjoyed seasons with very few incidents of late. We have had seasons with no fatalities from firearms. I never thought that possible when I started teaching Hunters Ed over 30 years ago. But as hunters we did accomplish just that. The next thing we need to accomplish is a season without any firearm incidents. As a group we can get there. It starts with us and with our hunting groups. We need to hold each other accountable for doing so. Gun deer season is supposed to be enjoyable, about creating good memories, the best time of the year. I’m looking forward to hearing about everyone’s good stories, fun stories, stories where no one gets hurt.
With that said - may the wind blow in your face, the sun at your back, your aim true, the steaks rare, the beer cold, and the whiskey smooth. The best time of the year is here.
Wishing you all the luck in the world and please remember Safe Hunting is No Accident!