Minnesota has enjoyed two firearms deer seasons and nearly three years without a hunting-related firearms death — that’s the longest stretch since the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has been tracking these tragedies. And when the firearms deer season opens Saturday, Nov. 6, every hunter needs to prioritize safety to keep the trend going.
“Our goal is that every hunter makes it home safely at the end of every hunt,” said Col. Rodmen Smith, director of the DNR Enforcement Division. “That doesn’t happen by chance; it happens when all hunters understand what’s at stake when they head out for the day.”
While the number of hunting-related firearms fatalities has dropped significantly since the 1960s and 1970s, when it wasn’t unusual for 10 or more hunters to die each year, safety officials say even one incident is one too many. In the past 10 years, a total of 14 people have died in firearms-related hunting incidents. Many of them happened during the firearms deer season. By following the basic rules of firearms safety, hunters can avoid most hunting-related firearms incidents:
• Treat every firearm as if it’s loaded.
• Always control the muzzle.
• Be sure of the target and what’s beyond it.
• Put finger on the trigger only when ready to shoot.
In addition to safe firearms handling and wearing blaze orange or blaze pink clothing, hunters also should keep safety top of mind when it comes to hunting from a tree stand. Accidents involving tree stands are the leading cause of injury among hunters.
According to national data, as many as one in three hunters who hunt from an elevated stand will fall and sustain a serious injury. The following tips can help hunters stay safe while using elevated hunting stands:
• Check the stand before the season to ensure it remains in good working order.
• Climb into and out of the tree stand before the season begins, so that you remember what it feels like.
• Inspect the safety harness thoroughly, and use it when in the stand, as well as when climbing into and out of it.
• Maintain three points of contact with the steps or ladder at all times.