Deer Hunting Season Safety Tips
According to the latest Texas Parks and Wildlife hunting incident analysis, the number of hunting accidents across the state has significantly decreased since the hunter education program became mandatory in 1988.
Last year, there were 17 reported hunting accidents involving either a firearm or a bow, three being fatal and 14 non-fatal. There were another 4 non-firearm/bow hunting-related incidents, with one being fatal and three non-fatal. That means that out of the 21 incidents a total of four resulted in death. Sadly, all of these incidents were easily preventable, had the hunters followed correct hunting protocols.
This weekend marks the start of the general deer hunting season for white-tailed deer, while mule deer hunting season will commence on November 23rd. The staff of Altus Emergency Centers is all too familiar with hunting-related accidents, which is why we would like to remind the members of our communities how easy it is to avoid incidents by just following these safety tips.
Scroll to read the official Deer Hunting Safety Tips from the Texas Department of State Health Services as well as from Altus Emergency.
DSHS reminds Texans engaged in outdoor activities to take safety precautions
Deer Hunting Safety Tips from DSHS. As deer hunting season begins, the Texas Department of State Health Services reminds Texans to take precautions to protect themselves from serious diseases transmitted by animals.
This summer 20 animals and one person in southwestern Texas contracted anthrax, a life-threatening disease caused by naturally occurring bacteria present in the soil worldwide. Animals can get the disease by swallowing anthrax spores while grazing, and people can get anthrax by handling infected animals or eating their meat. Rabies and brucellosis can also be passed to people through direct contact with live or dead animals so use protective gear when handling animal carcasses.
Hunters, hikers, and campers should use insect repellant to avoid bites. Mosquitoes and ticks are still active in the fall and can transmit West Nile virus, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease and a variety of other diseases that require prompt treatment to avoid potentially devastating complications. Infections such as plague and typhus are spread by fleas, often carried by rodents and other animals.
Tularemia and hantavirus are spread by direct contact with infected rodents or their droppings. “You can become infected by inhaling dust that contains hantavirus,” said Dr. Tom Sidwa, manager of DSHS’s Zoonosis Control Branch. “Wear a mask and follow other CDC guidelines when cleaning up after rodents, especially for heavy infestations in cabins, sheds, hunting blinds or barns.”
DSHS recommends the following precautions to minimize the risk of contracting diseases that are transmitted by wildlife:
- Use an effective insect repellent and follow package directions carefully. Those containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, and 2-undecanone provide longer lasting protection.
- Stay on trails and avoid areas of overgrown brush and tall grasses.
- Do not touch dead animals you find or their remains, including antlers, bones, and hides.
- Wear latex-type gloves when dressing game.
- Wear eye protection when dressing game to prevent fluids or tissues from splashing into your eyes. Shooting glasses provide an acceptable level of eye protection in most cases.
- Avoid eating, drinking, using tobacco, or rubbing your eyes while dressing game.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling game. If soap is not available, rinse thoroughly with water and then apply an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Cook all game meats thoroughly. Do not give raw scraps to your pets.
- Wear protective clothing such as a hat, long-sleeved shirt, and long pants tucked into boots or socks and check frequently for ticks.
- Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts can find additional information about diseases that can spread from animals to people at DSHTexas.gov.
Enjoy Deer Hunting Season the Safe Way
The following are additional deer hunting safety tips from Altus Emergency:
- Make Yourself Visible: Texas law requires that all hunters on public hunting lands wear at least 400 square inches of hunter orange material, of which 144 must be on the chest and back areas, orange headgear is also mandatory. Avoid using colors and patterns that blend with your surroundings.
- Always Point the Muzzle in a safe direction: Never rest the muzzle on your foot, always point the muzzle in a safe direction. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire and never fire your hunting weapon unless you are sure your target is an actual deer.
- Assume Every Gun is Loaded: Whenever you up a firearm point the muzzle in a safe direction and check if it is loaded. Be sure the chamber and the magazine are empty, and the action is open until ready to fire. Always have the safety on until you are ready to fire.
- Identify your Target and Know what is In Front of and Beyond It: Use binoculars to properly identify game animals, never use your scope to identify them. Make sure there are no hunters or dogs in front of or beyond your target. Never shoot at an animal is on top of a hillside since you don’t know what lies beyond it. Understand how far your bullets or arrows can travel to determine the chances of hitting an unintended target.
- Never Shoot at Flat Hard Surfaces: Bullets ricocheting off rocks, the ground and unbelievably even water can cause terrible injuries to people nearby.
- Handle Firearms and Bows Carefully: Guns and hunting bows are not toys, never leave weapons unattended around children, always unload firearms and unstring bows when not in use. Store and transport firearms and ammunition separately, make sure they are under lock and key. Carry arrows in a protective cover or quiver.
- Know Your Safe Zone: Hunters should be spaced 25 to 40 yards apart and always in sight of one another. A hunter’s safe zone of fire normally spans about 45 degrees in front them, but, the hunting party should make the final determination based on how experienced the hunters are. For safety purposes, there should be no more than 3 hunters in a party, for young or inexperienced hunters 2 is preferable.
- Don’t Drink Alcohol or Take Drugs When Hunting: The use of alcohol and drugs impairs physical and mental abilities, they affect emotions, judgment, vision, and reflexes, increasing the chances of injury.
- Be Careful When Using a Tree Stand: Always use a full-body safety harness when climbing up or down the tree stands, don’t remove it until you are safely down from it. Use your own tree stand and make sure it is installed properly.
- Keep Your Loyal Companion Safe: Make sure that you equip your pet with proper deer hunting gear and train them accordingly to keep them safe.
While we are happy to welcome deer hunting season, we hope that all heed these deer hunting safety tips to enjoy safely.