The Value of a Safe Hunt

February 18, 2009 by  

By Doug Leier

Most accidents that can be avoided are during deer hunting season

Most accidents that can be avoided are during deer hunting season

Pheasants are plentiful this fall across the prairie. Deer numbers, too, provide plenty of incentive to get out and enjoy what we may someday refer to as “the good old days.”

I’m not going to apologize for appreciating the hunting opportunities that should be available this fall of 2006.

While game populations largely depend on habitat and weather conditions, another aspect of the hunt, and the one I feel is easily the most important, is safety.

Let’s face it. If you can’t find a rooster, deer or duck, it’s more about your effort and less about the game population. Success is in the eyes of the beholder, but that’s what makes hunting so special.

One area, however, that doesn’t garner enough attention in the equation for a successful hunt is a safe hunt.

Safety, like success, depends on the actions of hunters. As a certified hunter education instructor, I join with hundreds of other volunteer instructors who stress that the need for safety trumps all other concerns. No one will remember how many ducks or how big the buck if the hunt is marred by an accident of any nature.

A couple items warrant review here, and each and every time your mind shifts to hunting.

Be careful of your shooting lane when pheasant hunting

Be careful of your shooting lane when pheasant hunting

First, treat every gun as if it were loaded. It’s that simple, no matter if it’s a toy gun or real gun, whether you’re in the field, at home or anywhere between. When transporting your gun or someone else’s, always assume and treat the gun as if it were loaded.

You’ll find trained law enforcement, hunters and gunsmiths will always “clear” any firearm, just to confirm with their own eyes, that to the best of their knowledge the gun is not loaded.

Secondly, never point or aim your firearm or bow at any thing you don’t intend to shoot. This holds true in all scenarios. Even when shooting clay pigeons or sighting in at the rifle range, and even if you know, for a fact, that the gun is not loaded, never point a gun in a misdirected manner.

I began instructing my own kids at the age they were able to pick up a plastic toy gun, that they should never point a gun – even a toy – at any person.

Teach a kid that a gun is a toy and that’s exactly how they’ll treat it. Instructing a youngster or anyone grasping a gun to treat it as a loaded firearm is good practice. And we all know practice creates the habits which we’ll take through life and into the field hunting.

Most of these past notations are advice on handling firearms in the field, but they are sound recommendations for any time you find yourself in the company of guns of any caliber type and make.

A final bit of advice as you take to the field hunting North Dakota’s bountiful game this fall. I know how difficult it is to deal with buck fever, or the adrenaline rush when a rooster busts out of the brush or cattails, or even when ducks and geese come into the decoys. Even the most seasoned hunters feel a rush that only hunting can provide. As you shoulder your gun, take a split second and make sure of your target and surroundings. 

If for any reason something seems to have changed, like maybe you’re not sure where your partner is, then by all means pass up on the shot.

When the scope focuses and you see something beyond the buck, stand down until you’re sure of the target and anything in front of and behind it. Just a split second may be all that is needed to make sure your hunt is both safe and successful.

And lastly, if you find yourself in the middle of an unsafe situation, by all means remove yourself. Alcohol and hunting don’t mix, neither do unsafe practices.

Here’s wishing you and yours a safe and successful fall.


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