Donald Reed, Coolman, Denise
Hunting season is under way in many areas of the state, and LSU AgCenter hunter safety expert Dr. Don Reed cautions hunters to keep safety in mind when they are in the woods.
Most people hunt safely, but chances are that if an accident happens, it’s because someone ignored safety rules, Reed says.
Deer hunting is a popular sport in Louisiana. Accidents involving the hunting of white-tailed deer are often the result of individuals mistaking a person for the game they are pursuing. Although Louisiana requires that all deer hunters wear orange, some individuals fail to do so.
"Failure of some to observe the law makes it imperative for all the other hunters to be certain of their targets before pulling the trigger," Reed says. "A related problem is that wearing orange is not a regulation during the spring turkey season. Target identification becomes especially important at this time."
Many deer hunters have been injured climbing in and out of elevated deer stands simply because of falls. Solid ladders, sturdy platforms and safety harnesses greatly reduce the chance of injury in this regard, Reed notes.
"When hunting white-tailed deer from elevated locations, load firearms only when they are safely in the stand, in the hands of the hunter," the safety expert emphasizes. "Use pull ropes to raise and lower firearms to and from these locations."
Waterfowl, quail and dove hunters should follow the basic rules of hunter safety, even though they use shotguns instead of rifles. An added danger, especially in waterfowl hunting, occurs when two or more hunters share 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.
For any kind of hunting, Reed says one of the oldest rules in the codes of hunter safety is to always treat a firearm as if it were loaded. Likewise, never aim a firearm at any object you don’t intend to shoot. Rifles with scopes should never be treated as binoculars to casually view the landscape over which someone is hunting.
Other common-sense hunting safety rules include never running with a loaded gun, never crossing a fence or other obstacle with a loaded gun in hand and never shooting a firearm if you believe the barrel has an obstruction in any part of it.
The 1984 Louisiana Legislature mandated that anyone born on or after September 1, 1969, must successfully complete a hunter education safety course prior to purchasing a hunting license. In addition, older hunters planning to hunt out of state should check the regulations in the state where they plan to hunt.
All states now require some form of mandatory hunter education certificate prior to issuing a license. Reed says the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries administers the hunter education program in Louisiana, conducting more than 600 courses annually.
For more information about hunter safety, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office. Also, log on to the LSU AgCenter Web site: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/.