Deer Hunting Season is Almost Here
An article in yesterday’s Burlington Free Press by Lawrence Pyne, ‘A Near Tragedy and a Lesson Learned’ made me think about hunting dangers and the upcoming deer hunting season, one of many hunting seasons in Vermont. Vermont’s pre-hunt deer population is estimated at 123, 000 (+/- 15,000) this year, with the greatest numbers of deer found in the southeast, east-central and northwestern portions of the state. This is about 10% fewer deer than last year; probably in large part due to the long, snowy winter we had last year.
Vermont’s Youth Deer Weekend is November 5-6 this year, the weekend before rifle season. Anyone 15 years-old or younger who has successfully completed a hunter safety course and purchased the required license can get a free youth deer hunting tag.
Vermont’s Rifle Season begins on November 12 and ends on November 27. One legal buck with at least one antler having two or more points may be taken.
Vermont’s Muzzleloader season is December 3 through 11. With the muzzleloader tag, one legal buck may be taken with at least one antler having two or more points. In addition to a legal buck, a muzzleloader hunter who received an antlerless permit (through a lottery system) may take an antlerless deer in the Wildlife Management Unit indicated on the permit.
I am not a hunter, so I have been dishing about on the web, looking for information on hunter safety. According to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife website, hunting is safe and getting safer. Hunting accidents have decreased 86% since hunter education began in Vermont in 1958. Do all you can to prevent accidents.
Of all the New England States, just Vermont and our ‘Live Free or Die’ neighbor, New Hampshire, do NOT require hunters to wear Hunter Orange. Wearing Hunter Orange is strongly recommended. You also need to dress for the weather, knowing that there will be lengths of time that you will be active as well as periods of time that you will be inactive.
Preserve your hearing. Gun shots are often in the 120 to 160 decibel level, and think about it; that gun is very close to your ear. Anything above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. Invest in a pair of sporting and shooting ear muffs; they allow you to hear lower decibel sounds and protect your ears from the higher decibel levels of the gun blast.
Here are some of the hunter safety tips I’ve gleaned from the web:
- Be sure of your target before you put your finger on the trigger. Never take these kinds of shots:
- At running game, when there is little opportunity to check your zone of fire and you are very unlikely to make a clean kill anyway.
- At “skylined” animals that are standing on or moving over a hill where you have no way of knowing what lies beyond your target.
- At targets when the angle of a missed shot would cause your bullet to travel its maximum trajectory and possibly injure others.
- At game that is clearly out of range.
- When objects in the foreground of your target could deflect your bullet.
- At game that another hunter is shooting at.
- When your bullet is apt to ricochet off flat or hard surfaces such as rocks, water, or trees.
- Do not consume alcohol or drugs while hunting.
- Do not hunt with anyone that has been consuming alcohol or drugs.
- Alcohol affects your body’s mental and physical abilities and impairs your sense of judgement. It also increases your risk of exposure while in the outdoors.
- Never cross a fence, ride a 4-wheeler or climb a tree with a loaded rifle.
- Be careful while dragging out your deer. Every year hunters die of heart attacks as a result of overexertion. Get help if needed, go slow and take rest breaks.
- If you are hunting alone, tell someone where you are hunting and when you expect to be back. Carry a cell phone.
- Never carry a loaded rifle in your truck or car.
Okay, here’s a challenge to all you hunters. Comment back with safety rules I didn’t mention; you’ll be making the woods safer for yourself and all hunters.