Make hunting safety a tradition

A week from today firearm deer season begins in Michigan. For most Delta County hunters, the preparations for deer season are already well underway.

Hunting is a tradition in the U.P. – something that is treasured from generation to generation. It is something worth preserving.

Often, though, the annual hunt ends in tragedy when someone is killed or injured in a hunting accident. Delta County has not been immune from these tragedies over the years. Hunter safety classes have had a big part in reducing hunting accidents, and those lessons learned should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind this time of year.

Before heading out to camp this year, take a minute to think about safety. Here’s some points to consider:

– Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.

– Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.

– Be certain of your target, and what’s beyond it, before firing. Know the identifying features of the game you hunt. Make sure you have an adequate backstop; don’t shoot at a flat, hard surface or water.

– Keep your finger outside the trigger guard and off the trigger until ready to shoot.

– Don’t run, jump or climb with a loaded firearm. Unload a firearm before you climb a fence or tree, or jump a ditch. Pull a firearm toward you by the butt, not the muzzle.

– Avoid alcoholic beverages before or during hunting. Also avoid mind- or behavior-altering medicines or drugs.

– All firearm deer hunters on any land during daylight hunting hours must wear a hat, cap, vest, jacket, rainwear or other outer garment of “hunter orange” visible from all sides. All hunters, including archers, must comply during gun season.

– Camouflage hunter orange is legal, provided 50 percent of the surface area is solid hunter orange. (Exceptions: waterfowl, crow and wild turkey hunters, and bow hunters for deer during bow season).

– Always let someone know where you are hunting and when you plan on returning. This information helps conservation officers and others locate you if you get lost.

– Carry your cellphone into the woods. Remember to turn your ringer off or set your phone to vibrate rather than ring. Your cellphone emits a signal that can help rescuers locate you when you are lost. If you have a smartphone, go to the settings and enable your GPS to help searchers find you if you get lost. Make sure before you leave for the woods each day that your phone is fully charged. If you have a smartphone, download a compass and flashlight app – there are many versions of these apps that are free to download in the iPhone App Store or on Google Play for Android.

This common sense advice can prevent hunting accidents and save lives. They are truly words to live by.