Safety still top priority when hunting

By Al Smith - Guest Columnist

Sometimes people think outdoor writers go overboard in preaching safety. This writer emphasizes it often. A couple of weeks ago, part of this column focused on safety with deer seasons underway.

After a few incidents in two border states during their deer gun seasons, it cannot be over emphasized with Ohio’s firearms season set to begin Monday and run through through Sunday, Dec. 2.

A pair of hunters were shot and died in Michigan. Another Michigan hunter was injured when he slipped on his tree stand and wound up getting tangled in his rigging and dangled from a tree for at least 2 hours. And then there was the Indiana deer hunter who shot himself when he slipped and his firearm accidentally went off.

Occurrences like these leave a sobering effect on hunters who are readying to go into the fields and woods because they could have been avoided.

In the one fatality, a hunter was shot by another hunter. The second hunter is thought to have been killed by another hunter, according to preliminary reports.

The injured Michigan hunter was able to call 911 with his cellphone, however, it took 2 hours for rescue personnel to get him out of the tree. Fortunately, after hanging upside down for those two hours he suffered only minor injuries.

The Indiana hunter slipped on a slick log as he was walking downhill. His firearm was slung over his shoulder, with the barrel facing down, when the firearm accidentally discharged as he fell. He made contact with his father who contacted 911. The injured hunter was then airlifted to the University of Cincinnati to receive medical treatment.

When you take to the field and woods this week, remember incidents like these occur when people do not follow essential safety rules. When dealing with firearms, there are four key safety elements to remember.

Anyone who has ever taken any kind of hunter safety course or firearms course well knows you should always treat every firearm as if it is loaded. Never assume a firearm is unloaded and always load it in the field.

Always point a firearm in a safe direction. “Safe” means there is no one remotely in your line of fair. And when shooting, remember a bullet may take an unexpected path.

With the prior rule in mind, then be aware of not only your target, but also what may be beyond that target.

And the final imperative safety measure is that one should always have the firearm on safety until you are ready to shoot. Keep your finger outside the trigger guard. Training should have you doing all in one motion from taking off the safety to moving your finger onto the trigger.

Don’t forget, if you have questions about Ohio’s deer-gun season, you may get answers by contacting the DOW Hunters toll-free at 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543).

Special call center hours for the deer-gun seasons include: 12-5 p.m. Nov. 25 before the beginning of deer-gun season; 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Nov. 26-30 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 1 and 12-5 p.m. Dec. 2. The deer-gun seasons run from Nov. 26-Dec. 2, and Dec. 15-16.

* * *

Limaland youth hunters had an outstanding weekend (Nov. 17-18) for the annual youth deer hunt. That harvest in the 9-county area was 387, far surpassing the 237 deer harvested during the same season a year ago.

Although many factors can play a part in the differential, weather likely was the main reason the harvest was way up. While weather conditions were not ideal, last weekend’s snow and drizzle was far better than the frigid and nasty conditions from a year ago.

Harvest numbers were up in all 9 counties. The harvest results in Van Wert County nearly tripled the results from last year as 38 deer were harvested this fall compared to 14 last fall. Many counties nearly doubled their numbers.

Results from local counties with last year’s harvest in parenthesis were: Allen 35 (21), Auglaize 38 (20), Hancock 35 (34), Hardin 42 (28), Logan 90 (48), Mercer 22 (16), Putnam 42 (27), Shelby 45 (29) and Van Wert 38 (14).

Statewide the harvest was up drastically, too. Youth hunters harvested 6,563 deer this year compared to 4,958 a year ago.

* * *

A free deer processing workshop is being offered by the OSU Extension on Dec. 4 at 6 p.m. at Graham High School, located at 7800 U.S. 36 in St. Paris.

Learn how to skin, process, store and prepare venison in the home kitchen.

Although the workshop is free, interested persons should pre-register for attendance by calling 937-484-1526 by Friday. People may email

By Al Smith

Guest Columnist

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

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