Michigan hunters are being safe in the woods.
During all hunting seasons in 2015, no fatalities were recorded, according to reports compiled by the Department of Natural Resources’ Law Enforcement Division.
That’s the second year in a row Michigan hunters have kept it safe and stayed alive in the woods. Hunters in the state have been staying safer since 1988, when it became mandatory for first timers born after Jan. 1, 1960, take a hunter safety course.
“Our excellent hunter education program saves lives,” said Sgt. Steve Orange, supervisor of the DNR’s Recreational Safety, Education and Enforcement Section. “When looking at the downward trend over the last five decades, it becomes very clear that our hunter education program is one of the major factors attributed to preventing fatalities and injuries.”
While fatalities stayed at zero for 2015, injuries did go up slightly compared to 2014. Thirteen injuries were reported during hunting seasons in the state in 2015, compared to 10 in 2014. Of those injuries reported in 2015, 12 came from the Lower Peninsula and one from the Upper Peninsula.
Still, 13 is a far cry from the number of reported injuries from when the state began to keep annual records. In 1970, 212 injuries were reported. The high came in 1974 with 275 injuries.
The DNR reminds hunters to follow all safety rules and recommendations to ensure a safe hunting season, including:
- Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times.
- Treat every firearm with the respect due a loaded gun. It might be loaded, even if you think it isn’t.
- 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 certain 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.
- Make certain 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, and carry firearms in cases and unloaded to and from the shooting area. Point a firearm only at something you intend to shoot. Avoid all horseplay with a gun.
- 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 and during shooting. Also avoid mind- or behavior-altering medications or drugs.
“Although these are all common sense rules and recommendations, the majority of accidents and fatalities happen because one or more of these safety points were not followed,” Orange says.