Accidents never go out of season

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 20, 2006

Deer season is coming to an end in only a few weeks, but more hunters will be heading to their favorite stand waiting on that big buck chasing does.

The rut is near, but don't get too excited and forget about the little things that will make sure your loved ones can greet you at the door.

Each year hunting accidents are responsible for many serious injuries and a few fatalities.

The upsetting part is that many of these accidents could have been avoided if the people involved had taken a little time to think about what they were doing.

&#8220I don't want to preach to the choir,” said Rusty Morrow, a Conservation Officer for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR), &#8220but people forget the basics about safety and end up getting hurt because of it.”

Morrow said that hunting accidents are becoming more prevalent during those dim light situations early in the morning and late in the evening.

&#8220You can sit on a field all day but once it starts getting dark, sticks and bushes start looking like deer silhouettes” said Morrow.

&#8220Everything in the woods begins to sound like a deer walking and people get that last hour itch.”

Chris Jaworowski, a biologist for the ADCNR said that people get &#8220tunnel vision” during the last hour of sunrise.

&#8220During the golden hour the woods take on a whole new appearance.

This is when many accidents happen because people get a little more careless.”

Morrow said that there would be fewer accidents if people would use a flashlight to walk to and from their stand during the dawn and dusk hours.

&#8220People are to worried about spooking a deer with their flashlight.

What's more important, though, spooking a deer that morning or making it home that evening?”

Morrow said that hunters can take a few precautions that will save lives before and after the hunt in low-light situations.

Use a flashlight when going to and from your stand.

A headlight is better because it enables you to have both hands free to safely control the muzzle of your weapon.

Also call out loudly to other hunters in the area.

Don't be afraid that game will be scared away after legal shooting hours.

All hunters should be on the ground anyway with their weapons unloaded.

The deer will have time to settle back down.

When walking across open areas in dim-lighted situations, make sure you flash your light 360 degrees every few steps.

This also applies to walking down trails and roads.

Never crawl in low-light situations, even if you are trailing a deer.

Walk in an upright position.

If you are trailing a deer speak loudly and flash your light 360 degrees to give any hunters in the area advanced notice that you are coming their way.

If you are tracking a deer, and it is a necessity to crawl, use a lantern that will cast light 360 degrees instead of a flashlight.

It will also make tracking easier.

Before climbing out of your stand in the evening shine, your light 360 degrees and call out to inform any other hunters that you are getting down and will be walking out soon.

In addition to these safety guidelines Morrow said that hunting clubs need to

include in their by-laws as a stipulation that requires members to sign in and out of specific hunting areas.

Also, it should be mandatory that each hunter have a flashlight with them at all times while in the woods.

Flashlights should be used when both going to and coming from their stand.

A hunting club could ask for $5 from each member and buy enough flashlights from a discount store for everyone.

Leave them at the club so if a hunter or guest does not have a light there is one available for them to use.

Keep a package of new batteries available also.

Another idea would be to post the legal hunting hours for each day at the sign in / out board and make it mandatory that every member be out of their stand at that time.

This would keep other hunters from walking past people who are still in stands.

Flashlights can also be used as a survival tool.

Extra batteries should be included in a survival pack and a large bright flashlight can serve as a signaling device if a hunter is lost.

If a hunter is injured and unable to call out to rescuers, the flashlight will be a locating device.

Also, in dim-light conditions a flashlight may prevent animal attacks if it's shined directly in the eyes of the animal.

Morrow also said that in a survival situation building a fire and the availability of a bright flashlight adds to the &#8220mental comfort” enabling the hunter to devise a plan of survival.

Jaworowski emphasized that most hunters are extremely careful and safety-conscious individuals.

&#8220There's only a few that are careless, but it's those few who cause preventable accidents.

Some just don't realize the responsibility of carrying weapons in the woods.

You can't stop a bullet once you squeeze the trigger,” he said.

And being safety conscious is something we all should be more aware of.

Every time a hunter sets foot in the woods, they should take a little extra time to be careful.

&#8220No deer in the world is worth losing your life or taking the life of someone else,” Jaworowski said.

&#8220You've got to remember, the most important part of hunting is making it home that night.”