Hunter#039;s safety important in and out of season

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 19, 2005

With deer season ending in January, hunters are gearing up for the start of turkey season.

No matter what the animal or season they are shooting, hunter

safety is a big part of any equation.

The sport of hunting is also used as a way to speed up Darwin's theory of Natural Selection.

The strongest survive.

"The Alabama Wildlife Federation manages national resources," said Marissa Sasser. "That's why the laws are set. The laws tell hunters to kill no more than the state law allows, which varies from year to year. The deer population in the state is plentiful and even with people hitting deer with their vehicles there is overpopulation. It is better to let hunters control the population by harvesting them than let deer run into cars and damage the vehicle or the people driving it. But, actually deer and other game animals are better for you than chicken and beef because they are getting less of the protein injected feed that cows and chicken do, think about it. All they are eating is natural substances. If you are going to utilize what you harvest, then you are basically doing the same thing that they do to cows."

Along with understanding the type of hunting available, as well as the weapon of choice, it is also very beneficial to understand a distinct amount of hunting safety. Everyone born after 1977 has to enroll in and pass a hunter's safety course. They are available at local courthouses, schools, and community centers.

The group Americans for Gun Safety (AGS) have an amazing amount of hunting safety available through classes and their website, Here are some of the points that they stress the most to hunters of all ages.

€Treat Every Firearm As If It Is Loaded

Don't assume that a gun is unloaded. It is possible that a cartridge could be stuck in the barrel and could possibly cause a misfire.

€Always Point the Muzzle in a Safe Direction

This allows for a decrease in possible accidents. If the gun is pointed in a safe direction, it will keep yourself or someone else form getting hurt.

€Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger

The safest place to keep your fingers while carrying a gun is along the trigger guard. If you were to trip or become startled, you could accidentally discharge the gun and cause harm to yourself or others.

€Never Rely on a Mechanical Safety

Even though safeties are built into guns as a natural "security" function, each type on each gun differs. Safeties can easily slip off and cause damage.

€Keep Gun Unloaded and Action Open Until Ready to Shoot

The "action" of a firearm is the working mechanism where the process of readying a cartridge for firing, firing, and extracting the empty cartridge casing takes place. In order to ensure safety, make sure the action is clear by keeping the chamber of the gun clear and checking to make sure that it is clear.

€Know Your Target and What's Beyond It

If you don't know where you are aiming for or what is beyond your target, don't shoot. You could possibly hit a building, automobile, or another person. Don't shoot in highly populated areas of people or structures. Also, realize how far your bullet can travel. Some bullets can travel up to 1 1/4 mile.

€Use Only the Correct Ammunition for Your Firearm

Misuse of ammunition can cause severe problems with your firearm, by blocking the chamber or causing a misfire. Use the correct type of ammunition for your firearms. Also know which ammunitions are safe to carry together and which are not.

€Know What to Do in the Event of a Misfire

Prepare yourself for the worst-case scenarios. Know how to properly and safely remove a misfired cartridge and/or how to correct the problem.

€Wear Protective Ear and Eye Equipment and Clothes

See what laws your state requires on how many square inches of orange you have to wear while hunting. Also, invest in a pair of goggles and earplugs/muffs to prevent hearing or vision loss.

€Keep Firearm Free from Obstructions and Well Maintained

Regular cleaning and proper storage are essential to safe operation. Failure to properly maintain a firearm is not only irresponsible; it could endanger you, your family, a friend, or wildlife.

€Don't Modify Your Firearm

Tampering with a firearm may cause it to malfunction. Altering it from its original design may be illegal. Do not jeopardize your safety, your firearm's functional integrity, or your freedom by deliberately or inadvertently altering or modifying it from its original design. It is a federal offense, punishable by time in prison, to do any of the following: disfigure the unique identifying serial number of your firearm, modify a firearm to fire in a fully automatic mode, Shorten a rifle or shotgun barrel below legal lengths.

€Do not Mix Guns with Alcohol, Drugs, or Fatigue

Any of these substances could cause major damage when used in addition to a firearm.

If you have any questions, feel free to call the local conservation office at 334-222-5415.