Deer Hunting Safety Tips

Missouri’s tradition of hunting thrives in the weeks after the successful 2013 Youth Firearms Deer Hunting Season, where hunters ages 6-15 harvested 18,676 deer in just two days.

Missouri has experienced an increase in youth participation from 40,000 in 2001 to 70,000 in 2012.

With the youth season behind us, it’s time get prepared for one of the most-popular outdoors traditions in: the fall firearms season.

Photo courtesy of the Lake of the Ozarks CVB.

Photo courtesy of the Lake of the Ozarks CVB.

As I gear up for my time-honored pilgrimage to deer camp, I am mindful of a few deer hunting safety tips:

• Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction
• Be sure of your target and what’s beyond it
• Don’t shoot at a flat, hard surface or water (ricochet – rebound/bounce/or skip off a surface may occur)
• Unload firearms when climbing into and out of your stand

Most deer-hunting accidents occur when hunters are climbing up or down from their tree stands. Always use a haul line to raise and lower gear into your stand, and use a safety harness when in your stand.

Yes, I have been known to “rest my eyes” when in the stand (as many hunters do). If you are like me, climbing down when you are cold, stiff, and wearing bulky clothing is difficult enough. That difficulty can be compounded when climbing down after trying to keep still for extended periods of time. A haul line helps keep both hands free, making the downward trek easier.

These are just a few deer hunting safety tips to remember as you prepare for the firearms season, which begins Saturday, Nov. 16. For more deer-hunting information, visit the Missouri Department of Conservation’s website; they also have details about public lands where deer hunting is permitted.

No matter where you hunt this season, remember the safety tips above and to have fun in Missouri. The Show-Me State is a great deer-hunting destination.

Written by Scott Pauley, The Missouri Division of Tourism’s outdoor specialist.