Brandon Butler: 10 rules for a safe and successful gun stag season
As deer hunters across the country begin to set out with guns in hand, the number one concern must be safety. We all hope to succeed and expect to have a pleasant experience, but every year tragedy strikes. Lesser disruptions in the pursuit of a good time include accidental game violations and confrontations with other hunters.
If the regulations, a few common sense rules and suggestions are followed, deer season should be a great experience for every participating hunter. Please keep in mind the following 10 rules:
1. Know your firearm and how it works
Never enter the field with a firearm that you do not know. Everyone should have fired their gun before taking him hunting. You need to know where the security is and how to use it properly. Know how to recycle your ammunition and be careful never to land a second or third shot accidentally.
2. Wear hunter orange
Hunter orange is required in every state I know of. I don’t know if there are any states where it’s not required during rifle season, but regardless, you should wear it. Hunter Orange lets other hunters see you so they don’t fire in your direction. If you can see the orange fighter, don’t even consider shooting in that direction. Bullets can ricochet and jump in strange ways.
3. Know your target and what lies beyond
Never shoot a horizon lined deer. If you can’t see what’s over the hill behind an animal you’re shooting at, don’t shoot it. There might be another fighter or vehicle within striking distance that you are not aware of. You need to be completely sure where your bullet will end up if you miss your target.
4. Respect private property rights
No entry. This includes shooting a deer just across a fence. Private property laws are strict and you don’t want to break them. You want to be a good neighbor. If you kill a deer that is running on a neighboring property, you must ask the owner’s permission before going to their property to retrieve the animal. In the event of a dispute, contact your local game warden.
5. Share public land
Public lands are just that – public. It doesn’t matter if you had a chosen spot for your hunt. If someone beats you there on any given day, they have as much right to be there as you do. Always have a backup plan and a backup plan for your backup plan. We are fortunate to have public lands to hunt in the country. We all own it. We have to share it. Try to remember that you share a common bond with other hunters. They are not your enemy. It’s more likely a friend you haven’t met yet.
6. Leave public land better than you found it
If you use public land to hunt, be proud of it. Do not throw. In fact, if you find trash, pick it up. Small gestures like this not only improve your experience, but also that of other hunters. Does not damage trees. Do not drive off-road. Follow the rules and look for opportunities to leave your public lands in better condition than they would have been had you not exercised your privilege to hunt on lands we all collectively own.
7. Know the bait rules
Just because the local sporting goods store sells deer corn doesn’t mean it’s legal to use it while hunting. There are many attractants and foods marketed to hunters as the key to killing a giant buck that are not legal in your state. In many states, all of this is actually essential to committing a gambling violation and imposing a costly fine on you. You should be aware of your local laws regarding the legality of bait and what is considered bait.
8. Hunt within legal hours
If the male of your dreams gives you a blow five minutes before the legal firing point, don’t take it. You never know where the game warden is sitting, listening for shots before the first legal minute. And that’s cheating, plain and simple. Ethics do the right thing even when no one else will know. Wait for the legal shooting fire and when the legal shooting fire ends, empty your firearm. Tomorrow is another day.
9. Tag and check your deer properly
Most states have opted for a telecontrol system and digital tags. You should be able to easily check your deer if you have cell service. There are many different rules when it comes to transporting deer, especially when it comes to chronic wasting disease. Make sure you know all the legalities of marking, checking, and transporting your deer.
10. Be respectful of other hunters and the general public
We are all in there. Hunting is an American tradition. It brings friends and families together. Be respectful of each other. We are a small group of citizens these days. We need to project a positive image to non-hunters. Show respect by trying to limit the gore. Transport deer under a tarp or blanket. Don’t post pictures of deer covered in blood with their tongues hanging out. By respecting animals, you paint hunters in a positive light. Most people don’t hunt and don’t really understand why we do. Do not put them out further by openly parading dead deer. We need all the support we can get.
See you on the trail…
Brandon Butler writes a weekly outdoors column for the Daily Journal. For more Driftwood Outdoors, check out the podcast at www.driftwoodoutdoors.com or wherever podcasts play. Send feedback to [email protected]