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Safe Hunting?

Pheasant Hunting Accidents Rise in Iowa

Iowans have been experiencing the best pheasant hunting in years. That's good, but hunting accidents have also increased and that's bad.

Accidents, in fact, have been higher this year than the past two.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has investigated 12 injuries, including several involving non-residents. That is an increase over 2001 and 2002. The DNR investigated five incidents in each of those years.

Most firearm accidents are caused by people simply not paying attention. Rod Slings, recreational safety program supervisor for the DNR, says the primary cause for these injuries is a lack of muzzle control and target fixation. Hunters are fixated on the bird, and not what is behind or around it.

There's a simple way to prevent such accidents and that is to adopt the "blue sky rule." I'd recommend that you discuss the rule with your hunting friends and agree to abide by it.

The rule simply demands that you do not shoot at any bird which is not surrounded by blue sky. Of course, if it is cloudy you just don't go hunting. Not really. The whole point of the rule is to not take a shot at any bird which is not above the horizon.

Shooting at low flying birds is very dangerous, both for your hunting companions and for your dogs. There are plenty of birds this year and passing up a shot simply isn't that big of a deal. Shooting one of your hunting companions is a big deal.

So, take some time on your next outing and bring up the blue sky rule. If everyone agrees not to take low shots and abides by that decision your hunt will be a lot safer.

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