Safety top priority for deer season

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Southwest Nebraska is hard to beat when it comes to outdoor opportunities.

With four great lakes for fishing and water sports, top-flight public golf courses and some of the best pheasant and upland game bird hunting in the state, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better place to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.

Close on the heels of the pheasant opener is this weekend’s firearm deer season opener.

We can’t say we are sorry to see the arrival of deer season. Departing drivers, rather than an “aloha” of “bon voyage,” are lovingly advised “Watch out for deer!”

Allowed to reach a state of overpopulation, they can be devastating to crops, damage fences, and prone to develop disease.

Few appreciate the beauty of a fully-racked buck than hunters who have invested hundreds of dollars and many hours in pursuit of the prize, with a good part of that expense going toward managing the deer population.

Like other important seasonal events, firearm deer opener is an important draw for the area economy, and we should be grateful to landowners who open their property to responsible hunters willing to pay for the privilege.

But the Nebraska Game and Parks has some important reminders for hunters to make sure this is a memorable weekend in a good way.

“While hunting remains one of the safest activities, there are always a few key things to consider while afield,” Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Hunter Education Coordinator Jackson Ellis said.

-- Always keep the rifle muzzle pointed in a safe direction, with safety on, and finger off the trigger until ready to fire.

-- Properly identify the target and what lies beyond it before pulling the trigger; never shoot at sounds or movement.

-- Wear your blaze orange. All deer hunters are required to wear 400 square inches of blaze orange visible on their head, chest, and back during the nine-day November firearm season, regardless if hunting with a firearm or archery equipment.

-- Unload firearms before traveling in a motorized vehicle and before crossing obstacles such as fences, creeks, or steep embankments.

-- When hunting from a tree stand or elevated platform, always maintain three points of contact when ascending or descending, pull your firearm or bow up to you with a haul line, and wear a Fall Arrest System (safety harness.)

“The tradition of deer hunting in Nebraska continues to be a fun, safe activity with great opportunities at finding success in all corners of the state,” Ellis said. “Have fun out there, good luck, and hunt safe!”

And to Ellis’ message we might add, to those who have come from afar, “Welcome to Southwest Nebraska and enjoy your visit!”

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