Editorial: Hunt safely with these tips

Published 8:57 am Friday, November 8, 2013

No hunter intends to cause an injury or plans to be injured while in a field, on a lake or in a deer stand; that’s why when it happens, it’s called an accident.

Yet, many hunting accidents can be prevented by taking more time, using common sense or more caution.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Division of Enforcement and Safety Training maintains records of reported hunting injuries and fatalities. Records show that in the past two years, there have been five fatalities and 38 incidents. Some incidents were self-inflicted, while others were caused by people hunting with the person who was wounded or killed.

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According to national statistics, though, more hunters die every year from cold water shock, hypothermia and drowning than firearms mishaps. However, there have been no duck hunter drownings in Minnesota during the past two waterfowl seasons.

Because hunting involves firearms, knives, arrows and is often conducted in cold and wet weather in some of the state’s wildest areas, the DNR reminds hunters to take particular time to prepare before heading out in the woods or wetlands.

The DNR offers tips for safe and responsible hunting, including:

• Follow the three basic rules of firearms handling — treat each firearms as if it is loaded; always control the muzzle of your firearm; be sure of your target and what is beyond.

• Get a detailed map of the area you are hunting, review it before you leave, and carry it with you in the field.

• Carry a compass and know how to use it.

• Carry a simple survival kit with rope, a knife, water, waterproof matches, an emergency shelter and first-aid supplies.

• If you are on the water, wear a life jacket.

• In case of capsizing or swamping when duck hunting, stay with the boat; even when filled with water, the boat will float and is more likely to be seen by potential rescuers.

• If hunting from an elevated stand, use a fall restraint device.

• Hunt with a companion or group, and always tell someone where you are hunting and when you plan to return.

New rules for the 2013 waterfowl season allow people to hunt on open water for migratory waterfowl on a few selected bodies of water. The DNR is concerned about the potential dangers of hunting in open water late in the season. Many open water hunters use layout boats, which should be accompanied by a person in a larger tender boat who can come to the rescue should something go wrong.

With Minnesota’s small game, waterfowl and archery deer seasons underway, and the firearm deer season set to begin Saturday, let’s make this a safer hunting season by being prepared and responsible.

— St. Cloud Times, Nov. 4

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