Practice safe habits during hunting season

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Deer season is underway, and just like any hunting season it can involve risk of injury to hunters.

Representatives with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks report that injuries throughout the year’s hunting seasons are already more numerous than normal.

Some are related to the improper use or inspection of tree stands, while others are the result of improper firearm practices. Still others were correlated with improper ATV use.

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Tree stands are not for hunters with a fear of heights, and as such should be used with care. Proper inspection of a tree stand before use is essential. Tips provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service suggest checking all straps and chains for wear and tear. Loose or missing nuts and bolts should be tended to, while cracked or frayed straps should be replaced.

When choosing a place to set up the stand, look for a tree that is healthy, particularly one that is straight and free of insect nests and animal dens. Before setting up the stand, clear any debris from the base to minimize injury if a fall occurs.

Just like with any trip away from home where the exact destination is unknown, leave information with a friend or family member about the

general vicinity where you will be hunting. That way, if they don’t hear from you by the appropriate time, they have a location to send search crews.

When handling a gun, be sure to keep the safety on until ready to take a shot. And always keep the barrel pointed away from other people. If everyone in the party is wearing an article of bright colored clothing it will be easier to identify them and avoid a potential accident. With that being said, never shoot at a target unless it has been 100 percent identified.

And finally, when using an ATV to get to the hunting zone, do so with care. Taking an ATV safety course is a wise decision for first time riders. All riders will want to prepare with a tool kit in case repairs are necessary.

So, hunt safely and have fun.