You canít be too careful on deer hunts
The Sportsmanís Report
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By Bill Hanson  August 16, 2013 12:00 am

Opening weekend of deer season for the A-zone (much of the coast) is most anticipated and sacred to deer hunters. But last weekend, one moment of carelessness ended in the accidental death of a hunter.

It was a tragedy that should not have happened, but it did. Any hunter with a few years under his belt knows accidental misfires happen. The cause is nearly always because of a mistake on the part of the person holding the gun. To this end, there are laws about loaded guns in a vehicle. Training in gun safety is a requirement for all hunters, yet misfires happen.

As a hunt leader, it is my greatest fear in the field…a moment to fiddle with your gun and boom. This year, as in all years, safety is the number one priority. If a hunter in my group is young or seems distracted, I make a special point of gun safety and explain that absentmindedly pointing a gun in the direction of another hunter will get them out of the field in a hurry. Depending on the circumstance, they may get another chance but not usually. In the safety talk, I stress that it is the obligation of every hunter to check the action of the person next to him before they get in the jeep. No one is exempt.

Unfortunately, I have had to explain to young hunters that his gun safety skills are not good and that he might hunt again in a few years but for now he is done hunting with me. It hurts and no level of “I’m sorry” or “it won’t happen again, I promise” cuts the ice for me. First, in the interest of our fellow hunters and for his own safety, some level of maturity is needed.

As a hunt leader, you have the honor of teaching a young person how to hunt, how to stalk, the subtle skills needed to outfox a deer or wild boar and introduce them to our hunting heritage. Do your part and explain the basic rules of gun safety on every hunt and pay special attention to younger hunters, as they tend to make the most mistakes. Your fellow hunters will also appreciate your attention to gun safety. Done properly and with a mind to good, safe fun, it is hard to beat introducing a new hunter to the sport.

Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.

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