Make safety this year’s No. 1 hunting priority
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Safety is a key aspect of having a successful and enjoyable hunt this season and for many more to come.
As always, deer hunters should wear the appropriate amount of hunter orange, be sure of their target and know their position in relation to hunting partners, residential areas and public roads.
Following are several additional safety measures to consider as we rapidly approach this year’s deer season.
Tree stand safety…
A lot has been written about the use of safety harnesses with tree stands. Even though you are not required to use safety harnesses when hunting on private lands, why take that chance? Also, why risk using a questionable harness?
Whether you’re using a climber-style or ladder-style, lean-up stand, check to make sure they are in safe operating condition before using them. Inspect the welds, bolts, screws, seats, straps, chains and fasteners. When you’re planning to hunt from an elevated blind or shooting house, inspect them first. The elements take their toll after several years of weather exposure.
Rats and squirrels may gnaw or chew on straps. If in doubt about the safety of these structures, repair or replace them. Replace any nylon straps that have been exposed to weather over the course of a hunting season.
Flash light or head lamp use…
Some hunters travel to and from their stands or blinds before dawn and/or after dusk. Use a flashlight or head lamp (white light or red light) when traveling to and from your hunting areas. If you don’t have a light, make human noises while walking from your hunting area near or after dark. A good rule is for you and your hunting partners to make sure guns are unloaded before you leave the stand or hunting area after legal shooting hours. You can’t legally harvest an animal anyway, and there won’t be any firearms accidents with an unloaded gun.
Wearing nitrile or latex gloves has never really been considered a hunting safety measure -- until now. Since chronic wasting disease has been diagnosed in a Mississippi deer, we strongly recommend that everyone wear protective gloves when handling deer carcasses, especially when hunting in the south Delta region.
While it hasn’t been proven to date, there is some concern that exposure to prions (misshapen proteins) that cause chronic wasting disease in deer could be linked to Creutzfeldt-Jakob’s disease in humans. So, purchase a box or two of protective gloves, and stick a couple of pairs in your jacket pocket before venturing out on the hunt. Also, using gloves when field dressing and processing a deer sure makes the cleanup process so much easier and convenient.
As deer season approaches, it’s easy for us to become distracted thinking about harvesting that big buck and anticipating good times while hunting with friends and spending weekends at the camp. Take a little time to check out all of your equipment, and go over safe hunting protocols with camp members/hunting partners, especially new and young hunters. Be safe and have an enjoyable hunting season.
Editor’s Note: Extension Outdoors is a column authored by several different experts in the Mississippi State University Extension Service.