By Doug Leier
In any given year about 100,000 individuals put in for the regular deer gun lottery. Safe to say, even if you don’t deer hunt there’s someone in your house, at work or next door that either will be deer hunting or wishes they were.
When it comes to deer hunting safety (or pheasants, waterfowl, you name it), there’s basic tenets for hunters and others in the field:
· Treat every firearm with the same respect due a loaded firearm.
· Control the direction of your firearm’s muzzle.
· Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
· Be sure the barrel and action are clear of obstructions.
· Unload firearms when not in use.
· Never point a firearm at anything you do not intend to shoot.
· Never climb a fence or tree, or jump a ditch or log, with a loaded firearm.
· Never shoot a bullet at a flat, hard surface or water.
· Store firearms and ammunition separately.
· Avoid alcoholic beverages or other mood-altering drugs before or while shooting.
In some way, shape or form, those are the 10 commandments of hunter safety. Common sense isn’t listed, nor is understanding that once the trigger is pulled, you can’t undo what happens
next. I could include these in just about every column year-round and we’d still, unfortunately, end up with firearm incidents during the hunting season.
Deer vehicle collisions
In similar fashion, no matter how many deer are on the landscape, any single deer-vehicle collision is significant for the individual involved. The same could be said if there’s only one hunting injury or incident. In the big picture that may be a statistical success, but to the person involved and their family, it is significant.
October through early December is the peak period for deer-vehicle accidents. Motorists are advised to slow down and exercise caution after dark to reduce the likelihood of encounters with deer. Most deer-vehicle accidents occur primarily at dawn and dusk when deer are most often moving around.
Motorists should be aware of warning signs signaling deer are in the area. When you see one deer cross the road, look for a second or third deer to follow. Also, pay attention on roadways posted with Deer Crossing Area caution signs.
Deer-vehicle accidents are at times unavoidable. If an accident does happen, law enforcement authorities do not have to be notified if only the vehicle is damaged. However, if the accident involves personal injury or other property damage, then it must be reported.
In addition, a permit is required before taking possession of road-killed deer. Permits are free and available from game wardens and local law enforcement.
A few precautions can minimize chances of injury or property damage in a deer-vehicle crash:
● Always wear your seat belt.
● Don’t swerve or take the ditch to avoid hitting a deer. Try to brake as much as possible and stay on the roadway. Don’t lose control of your vehicle or slam into something else to miss the deer. You risk less injury by hitting the deer.
● If you spot deer ahead, slow down immediately and honk your horn.
Keep these safety tips in mind in the field, on stand and on the road this deer season.
Leier is an outreach biologist with the North Dakota Game & Fish Department.
Featured Photo: Even if you don’t hunt deer, there’s someone in your house, at work, or next door that either will be deer hunting or wishes they were. NDG&F Photo.