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Safe Hunting?

Hunting Season Brings Safety Concerns

By Dorothy Y. Lewis, Rocky Mount Telegram

21 November 2003

Wildlife enforcement officers expect a lot of Twin Counties hunters to be out this week so they can add venison to the Thanksgiving Day table.

Deer hunting season is in full swing until January, and there have been a couple of accidents in the area, said Capt. Mark Bruton, a wildlife enforcement officer.

"We're still investigating the accidents, but one hunter had a big toe shot off and another accident involved the ankle," Bruton said. "We have not had any hunting-related fatalities in Edgecombe or Nash counties this year."

Bruton said many hunting accidents are preventable, and if done properly, hunting can be safer than playing ping pong.

"Hunters should be extremely careful, especially with so many people in the woods," Bruton said. "They should always wear blaze orange so they aren't mistaken for a deer."

Earlier this month, 14-year-old Daniel Sheets of Lee County was killed while hunting in Harnett County with a group of friends.

Investigators said Sheets, who was shot in the head, was not wearing a blaze orange vest.

Sheets also was too young to be hunting without adult supervision, investigators said.

"Children under 16 or any first-time license buyer are required to take a hunter education course," Bruton said. "If children haven't taken the course, they must go hunting with a parent or guardian."

Bruton said he knows of two hunters who are paralyzed because they fell out of a tree stand.

"Be careful in tree stands accidents happen when a person falls out of a tree stand or gets in a tree stand that is shabby," he said. "In Edgecombe County, a hunter fell through a tree stand and died a few years ago."

Hunters should be sure of their targets and unload their guns when they get into their vehicles.

"It's illegal to hunt from a public road," Bruton said. "We crack down on people who hunt after dark. These hunters will use artificial light and shine the lights in eyes of deer. The deer become easy targets because they can't see because they are blinded we do not allow this."

Jonathan Lucas, N.C. Wildlife game warden, was combing the fields Friday in Castalia to make sure people were hunting safely.

"I'm not doing this to discourage hunting," said Lucas, who said he hunts himself. "I enjoy this job because I get to meet a lot of interesting people. I've seen children grow up. I hear stories about, 'I remember when you catch this that and the other out here.'"

Lucas said he just wants to make sure people are obeying the laws.

Lucas made sure Courtney Rogers, 40, of Raleigh was wearing his blaze orange.

"I come hunting here (Nash County) every Friday and Saturday," said Rogers, who was wearing a blaze orange hunting cap. "I started hunting in 1993, and I really enjoy it. We hunt rabbits and turkeys. Some of the people I'm hunting with killed about five deer this afternoon."

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