Fewer hunting accidents so far this season
BY SHERI McWHIRTER
GAYLORD -- Alpena resident Fred Baker once came uncomfortably close to
being shot while deer hunting: He saw another hunter observe him
through a rifle scope as he walked to his natural deer blind.
"I got up there and asked him if that rifle was loaded and he said
it was. I thought that was pretty dangerous," Baker said last week as
he shopped for a new rifle at a Gaylord sporting goods store.
Such behavior can lead to injury or death in hunting accidents,
state officials said. And while no major hunting accidents were
reported as of Friday in northwestern Lower Michigan since the Nov. 15
start of the firearms deer season, that's not the case elsewhere.
Hunters were injured in 13 reported accidents during the last nine
days, including two fatal shootings -- on Nov. 17 in Montcalm County
and in Oceana County on Thanksgiving Day. There were 17 hunting
accidents during the entire deer season last year, including three
Statistics show most injuries occur when hunters shoot themselves
or a hunting partner, often in the foot.
Lt. Jane Gordon is a conservation officer with the Michigan
Department of Natural Resources. There are numerous safety tips to
remember while hunting, three especially so, she said.
"Watch the muzzle of the gun, keeping it pointed in a safe
direction; always treat the gun as if it were loaded; and, know your
target and what's beyond," Gordon said. "If everybody did that, we'd
have no hunting accidents at all."
Hunter Sam Surre, of Frederic, believes wearing hunter orange is
most important, including hats and gloves to draw attention to even
small motions from hunters.
"Other hunters will see that in the woods," Surre said, raising his
hands to demonstrate holding a rifle.
Surre formerly taught hunter safety classes and said hunters using
tree stands also should remember to latch their stands' safety straps,
even if it is uncomfortable. Many hunters fall asleep in their tree
stands and can tumble to the ground, he said.
"I've fallen asleep lots of times, but I wear a five-point safety
harness, so I never fall out," Surre said.
The DNR also recommends hunters keep their finger outside the
trigger guard until ready to shoot, unload firearms when not in use,
point guns only at intended targets and avoid drugs and alcohol while
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