This is the time of year when leaves start to turn to bright colors of red, yellow and orange. It also is the season when hunter pull out their orange vests and caps in anticipation of a safe and successful deer hunting season.
Michigan is filled with amazing natural resources, and among them is an abundance of game animals in our woods and waterways. Hunting is a time-honored tradition passed from parents to children, and it is important that hunter safety is one of those lessons passed from generation to generation.
The youth deer hunt has already taken place, with many first-time hunters experiencing the exhilaration of a safe and successful outing into the woods. Bow season is currently underway, with the regular firearm season on tap for November.
Regardless of age or the tool used for hunting, safety should be the priority when headed into the field. A hunter safety course is a must for new hunters, and would be a great refresher for veteran hunters.
Formal hunter safety classes are available through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). A basic overview of hunter safety courses available, both online and in the field, are available at www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10363_39267—,00.html. The site also has links to other resources, such as hunting laws in Michigan and regulations on baiting and feeding. It is a valuable resource for new and veteran hunters alike.
The DNR offers a 10-hour classroom course that includes field work. The curriculum includes training in firearms safety, basic archery safety, hunting ethics, wildlife management, conservation, survival, regulations and a final written exam. The cost of the course could be up to $10 to cover field supplies.
Home study is another option. Students who opt for this form of study must register for a field day class before taking a home study course. You can search for a home study option at the DNR website.
Online courses also are available, but still require hunters to attend the field day portion of a regular in-person class and take the student examination to receive a hunter safety certificate.
With hunter safety fresh in the minds of young and old hunters, family members can take to the fields and waterways to go after game of their choice, and continue the tradition of hunting in Michigan that makes our state such a wonderful place in which to live and play.
There are some common-sense rules that every hunter should know well and follow. The DNR calls it the 10 Commandments of Hunting. They are worth repeating here, and should apply to bow hunters as well:
• Watch that muzzle — keep it pointed in a safe direction at all times.
• Treat every firearm with the respect due a loaded gun.
• Be sure of the target and what is in front of it and beyond it. Know the identifying features of the game you hunt. Make sure you have an adequate backstop — don’t shoot at a flat, hard surface or water.
• Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot. This is the best way to prevent an accidental discharge.
• Check your barrel and ammunition. Make sure the barrel and action are clear of obstructions and carry only the proper ammunition for your firearm.
• Unload firearms when not in use. Leave actions open/carry firearms in cases and unloaded to and from the shooting area.
• Point a firearm only at something you intend to shoot.
• Don’t run, jump or climb with a loaded firearm. Unload a firearm before you climb a fence or tree, or jump a ditch. Pull a firearm toward you by the butt, not the muzzle.
• Store firearms and ammunition separately and safely. Store each in secured locations beyond the reach of children and careless adults.
• Avoid alcoholic beverages before or during shooting. Also avoid mind- or behavior-altering medicines or drugs.
Happy hunting, and be safe.
State Rep. Rick Outman, R-Six Lakes, represents the 70th House District.
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