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VA: Deadly Year for Hunters

February 01, 2009 - Lynchburg, VA

This has already been the deadliest year for Virginia hunters in more than a decade. Now, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is stepping up efforts to educate hunters before the next big season starts. They believe most hunters already know the basics, they just need to put them to use.

SGT Chris Thomas, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries - "It's just the enjoyment of being out there, especially at daylight, seeing the sun come up, the animals waking up, moving around. It's just an enjoyable experience.

There are a few simple truths every hunter learns his first time out. The first, and arguably most important, is patience.

SGT Thomas - "Once you've pulled trigger, you can't pull that bullet back.

It's a message the Virginia Deparment of Game and Inland Fisheries says saves lives. A message they're hoping to spread over the next two months. Virginia has already had 9 hunting deaths in the 2009 fiscal year. The next big season starts in April. DGIF is hoping hunters get back to basics - now - with practice during small game season.

SGT Thomas - "A lot of rabbit hunting is done in areas like this: thick, dense briar thickets and all. They get focused on what they're doing, and kind of forget that they're with a group of people, and, it's easy for the muzzle to be turned in a direction it shouldn't be turned."

To them, back to basics means identifying your target, and everything beyond it, remembering to wear your blaze orange, and practicing good communication. But it goes beyond your relationship with other hunters.

Capt. Henry, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries - "Several of the accidents ended up being self-inflicted, which goes just back to careless gun handling."

SGT Thomas - "One step at a time."

Five of nine deaths this year were self-inflicted - the kind that happen when you rush things - also the kind these guys say are most preventable.

SGT Thomas - "Any hunting incident that we have is too many."

If you're interested in getting out there to practice your skills with small game, this year's rabbit season runs through the end of February. The Spring gobbler season picks up April 11th.

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