Hunting Safety
Inside the Outdoors, October 7,

Now that hunting season will be upon us, those taking part in the sport must be ever mindful of the safety factors whether one is hunting for turkey, deer or even squirrels.

Here’s a good tip. Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Consider this. once a shot is fired, if it hits something other than one’s target, it cannot be retrieved. It is better to take a little more time and know the target is the correct one as opposed to making a mistake, and possibly hitting another hunter nearby.

Once one has realized that he must return back to camp or to his car, before putting the weapon away or in one’s vehicle, unload the weapon. No gun should be kept in storage or sitting or lying around with shells or bullets in it.

If one’s gun doesn’t fire as expected, take caution before proceeding to determine the reason. The once “looked forward to the trip” may prove disastrous if one is careless.

One thing I learned when I was a youth, when my uncle used to bring many weapons from his gun shop for us to shoot bottles filled with water in the bottom a gorge on top of Laurel Mountain, was, always wear some sort of earplugs. We would stand on top and fire down into the rocky, watered basin of what apparently was an old mine.

Every gun has a deafening sound when the bullet or BBs are forced out of the muzzle. Even though he started me on a .22 caliber rifle, he also introduced me to some more powerful ones. The amount of sound intensified so greatly that actually there was no comparison. That is why it is a must that uses ear protection. Once one loses the sensitivity of one’s hearing, the detection of wildlife becomes minimized, and one will wish he had used ear protection as I advise.

One measure that my uncle didn’t employ was eye protection. According to Mark Boerio, owner of Army Navy and Indoor Pistol Range, “Wearing eye gear is highly recommended though most people don’t do it,” he said. In one respect, they can be cumbersome, I can understand that, but on the other side of the coin, once one damages his eye, one’s hunting experiences will be terminated immediately.

While using high-powered weapons, anything can happen, so protecting one’s person should be high on one’s list, when taking part in this sport.

To be a successful hunter, one must dress appropriately. Talking to different retailers and they will all agree upon the fact that one must wear full camouflage from the top of one’s heads to the tip of one’s toes. Exposure of underneath clothing may hinder one’s hunting experience.

I have a bug suit that I have that I wear from head to toe while fishing. At first, I thought it was a stupid idea, but after wearing it did it prove very worthy.

Tom Fazi, wildlife conservation officer supervisor for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, told me he wears safety glasses when he goes grouse hunting. “I wear this protection to prevent the thorns and other growths from getting into my eyes when I walk through the woods,” he stated. “Otherwise, I don’t do so when deer hunting, for example.”

If one is hunting for turkey, for instance, I have read that one should eliminate our country’s color – red, white and blue. The head of this bird will have red and blue on it. If one shoots a turkey out of season, it may mean trouble for the careless dresser.

I happen to come upon a flyer put out by the National Wildlife Turkey Federation (NWTF) that contained a paragraph that made good sense. It read: “Never wave, move or make turkey sounds to alert another hunter. Remain still and call out in a loud, clear voice to alert oncoming hunters of your presence.”

Again, Fazi recommended one stick to these suggestions. “When hunters are turkey shooting, he said, they are thinking turkeys and turkeys only. With any bit of movement just may get someone shot.”

One more thing, which could be for any type of fowl, “When using a decoy, always place it so one is out of the direct line of fire should another hunter mistake it for legal game. When moving through the woods, totally conceal one’s decoy with camouflage so it won’t be mistaken,” it said.

Concerning one’s weapon, always keep it in tip-top condition. So, when one is about to gun for his favorite species, he will be able to have piece of mind knowing everything is up to snuff, as the saying goes.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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