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MN - Be careful, be visible when out hunting

Our view: Be careful, be visible when out hunting
Times Editorial Board

Published: November 07. 2007 12:30AM

Even if you bagged that trophy buck or simply enjoyed a quiet weekend in the woods, most Minnesotans probably agree that four hunting-related shootings Saturday and Sunday were far from the ideal way to start the 2007 firearms deer season.

Sadly, the season's first shooting was fatal. Craig Rupp, 60, died from a gunshot wound to the chest Saturday morning while hunting near Elbow Lake.

Of the other three shootings, one victim was in critical condition Monday, according to The Associated Press. Two other hunters suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Authorities indicated all four shootings appeared to be accidental.

For the record, both 2006 and 2005 saw nine deer-hunting shootings, three of which were fatal, according to the Department of Natural Resources. In 2004, there were four shootings but no fatalities.

Still, with the firearms deer season set to last anywhere from a few more days to almost three more weeks, depending on your location, it's worth taking a moment to review some basic safety tips.

Gun safety

First, the state Department of Natural Resources says statistics compiled in the past five years show that 44 percent of hunting-related shootings are self-inflicted. That means hunters themselves can play a huge role in reducing their odds of having an accident.

Even the most experienced hunters should practice good gun safety. That includes:

Making sure firearms have operational safeties and using them.

Always treating a gun like it's loaded. (Never point the barrel of a gun at any person.)

Unloading the gun before you climb up or down a tree stand.

Not carrying the gun with you when you climb up or down from that stand. Rather, use a rope to raise and lower the gun.

Be especially careful when cleaning any gun.

Visibility

State statistics gathered the past five years also show the importance of all hunters seeing and being seen.

The DNR reports that 12 percent of victims who hunters shot were mistaken for game, 13 percent were out of the sight of the shooter and 17 percent were hit when the shooter swung the gun to shoot at game.

Those numbers show why it's important to wear highly visible clothing.

We recommend nothing less than 100 percent blaze orange for your torso and extremities.

Mostly, though, the key aspect of visibility rests with the person aiming the gun. They need to be absolutely certain of what they are shooting at and what is behind that target.

Only then is it safe to remove the safety and pull the trigger.


 

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