STILLWATER – Oklahoma hunters have been checking their trail cameras, climbing into their blinds and slinging arrows at deer since archery season began Oct. 1.
While avid hunters are eager to get out in the wild, there are several safety issues they should consider as hunting season ramps up, said Dwayne Elmore, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist.
“Always wear a fall restraint harness when using an elevated stand,” he said. “This includes climbing into and out of the elevated stand as an estimated 75 percent of accidents occur when climbing into and out of stands. Many accidents occur when people are simply ‘checking on’ a stand but are not prepared with a restraint.”
It is not just deer hunters in tree stands who should take precautions. Waterfowl hunters should always wear a personal flotation device while on the water.
Sometimes hunters ignore this precaution because they are already wearing bulky clothing. However, if you are wearing heavy clothing, it is all the more reason to wear a PFD.
“Even an experienced swimmer has little chance of making it to safety in bulky clothing and cold water. Also, waders quickly fill with water pulling the person under,” Elmore said. “For this reason, either cinch the top of the waders to minimize water intake or wear tighter fitting neoprene waders.”
Before shooting, hunters should be sure their target is in full view with a clear backstop. Bird hunters are particularly at risk, as they tend to hunt in groups in dense cover for fast moving birds going in random directions.
“Make sure you know where your entire hunting party is at all times, avoid shooting at low birds, and wear an orange hat as that may be the only part of you above tall cover,” said Elmore.
Always tell someone where you are hunting and what time to expect you home. If something happens to you, at least there is someone who knows where to send assistance. Do not count on your cell phone for rescue. It likely will not have coverage and you may be unconscious.
Also, exercise extreme caution when cleaning and processing game.
“This is best carried out with a helper in case of accidents,” Elmore said. “Do not cut toward your body and always use sharp knives. Dull knives require more physical force, which will increase the likelihood of the knife slipping and injuring yourself.”
A few safety precautions can go a long way in ensuring a safe and successful hunting season, at least for the hunters.