Donald Reed, Coolman, Denise | 4/26/2005 8:28:25 PM
With hunting season in full swing, an LSU AgCenter expert says it’s a good time to remember that safety should be everyone’s top priority.
Dr. Don Reed, an LSU AgCenter wildlife and hunting safety specialist, said taking a hunter education course is an excellent way to keep safety at the forefront of your hunting activity.
"That’s especially if you were born on or after Sept. 1, 1969," Reed said. "State law mandates everyone born on or after this date to successfully complete a hunter education course before he or she can buy a hunting license."
Those persons going out of state to hunt should check state regulations in the state where they plan to hunt, Reed said. All 50 states now require some form of hunter education certificate prior to issuing a license.
Hunter education courses are taught in Louisiana by certified instructors with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. For information on these courses, contact your local Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries office.
Deer season is one hunting season that is getting a lot of attention right now in the state. According to Reed, any person hunting deer on public land is required to wear at least 400 square inches of "hunter orange" on his or her head, chest and/or back.
"Anyone hunting on privately owned, legally posted land may wear a hunter orange cap or a hat in lieu of the 400 square inches," Reed said.
Reed said those provisions do not apply to people hunting deer from elevated stands on property that is privately owned and legally posted. They also don’t apply to archery deer hunters on legally posted lands where firearm hunting is not permitted by agreement of the landowner or lessee.
"But anyone hunting deer on such lands where hunting with firearms is allowed is required to display the 400 square inches or a hunter orange cap or hat while walking to and from elevated stands," he said. "But while a person is hunting from an elevated stand, the 400 square inches or the cap or hat may be concealed."
The LSU AgCenter expert stresses that wearing "hunter orange" clothing or caps will not scare the deer away, but it will help in an effort to keep hunters safe.
"Deer are color blind," Reed said. "They can’t see if you’re wearing orange. Another person, however, can see orange, so wearing orange could save your life."
Deer season runs through Jan. 31, 2005, in many areas of the state. In addition to information about wearing "hunter orange," Reed has a variety of other safety tips to follow when hunting.
"These include never crossing a fence with a loaded gun," he said. "Also, use pull ropes to raise and lower firearms in and out of deer stands. And never run with a loaded gun."
Reed said always treat a firearm as if it were loaded and never shoot a firearm if you believe the barrel has an obstruction in it.
"Never use the scopes as binoculars, either," he said.
Hunting fatalities involving firearms have gone down in recent years. As many as 20 hunting-related fatalities were reported in Louisiana during 1983, but only three were reported last year (2003).
Reed credits this drop to the hunter education courses, which state law mandated in 1984.
While there are hunting accidents that involve firearms, there are also many accidents that happen with people climbing in and out of elevated deer stands. These can be avoided by using a "little common sense," Reed said.
"Always use precaution when climbing in and out of elevated deer stands," he said. "Use solid ladders, sturdy platforms and safety harnesses to reduce the chance of injury."
Reed also says to use caution when hunting waterfowl, especially when two or more hunters are using the same blind.
"Sharing a blind can be safe if hunters establish ‘zones of fire’ whereby ducks flying around the blind will have a pre-determined shooter as to who will fire the shot in what area," Reed said.
For more information on hunting safely or a variety of other topics ranging from natural resources to 4-H youth development, go to www.lsuagcenter.com.