Donald Reed, Coolman, Denise | 10/29/2005 1:55:27 AM
It’s hunting season, and with Louisiana being a "Sportsman’s Paradise," many people will take to the woods. LSU AgCenter hunter safety expert Dr. Don Reed cautions everyone to keep safety in mind when hunting or even when preparing to hunt.
Deer is one prey hunters try to bag each year. To reduce the chance of injury when climbing in and out of elevated deer stands, Reed cautions all hunters to use safety precautions. He also encourages hunters to use safety precautions when hunting dove, quail or waterfowl.
"Many hunters have been injured climbing in and out of their stands because of falls," Reed said. "A person can be seriously hurt and possibly killed if he or she doesn’t use precaution when climbing in and out of a tree stand."
Mike Kennedy of Monroe is one hunter who believes in using a safety harness when climbing in and out of a tree stand. Kennedy was injured two years ago when he was repairing a step leading up to his tree stand. The step had broken the year before and he had replaced it with a temporary step. He was replacing the temporary step when he fell 20 feet, hit the ground and broke his back.
"I had always been told to wear a safety harness when I was up in a tree," Kennedy said. "But I never had. I was one of these people who thought, ‘Nothing is ever going to happen to me.’ I was wrong."
Kennedy calls his accident a "freak accident," but one that could’ve been avoided, just the same. He has undergone two years of therapy and says he is "still not right." He can’t work, and he has had to learn how to regain use of his legs, as well as how to control some bodily functions.
"Looking back, I wish I had used a safety harness," he said. "Now, I am a firm believer that people should use safety precautions when climbing trees."
Knowing how to get a shotgun in tree stands is also important.
"When hunting white-tailed deer from elevated locations, load firearms only when they are safely in the stand, in the hands of the hunter," Reed said. "Use pull ropes to raise and lower firearms to and from these locations."
Reed said hunting accidents are often the result of individuals mistaking a person for the game they are pursuing. Wearing orange when hunting deer is one important precaution Reed encourages everyone to use.
"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 said, adding, "A related problem is that wearing orange is not a regulation during the spring turkey season. Target identification becomes especially important at this time."
Rabbit, squirrel and deer seasons started Oct. 1. Quail season starts Nov. 19. 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/.