By The Associated Press

Eau Claire Leader-Telegram. October 19, 2023.

Editorial: Hunting safety is everyone’s responsibility

Wisconsin’s gun deer season is rapidly approaching. It’s not the only time you’ll see hunting in the state, but it’s by far the biggest one for most people. There are some things to remember.

Hunting is one of the ways to enjoy Wisconsin’s outdoors. Fall is an incredible season here, and it’s well worth getting out and enjoying it. And, since hunting can play an important role in controlling the deer population, it’s a significant gain for the state.

Here’s the catch: if it’s capable of killing a big buck, it’s perfectly capable of killing a person, too. Hunting always involves risk. That’s just the way it is.

That means the name of the game is risk management. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has some tips that make that a lot easier.

W-DNR regulations require that at least 50 percent of each hunter’s clothing above the waist must be blaze orange or blaze pink any time there is a firearm deer season in progress, and any head covering must be at least 50 percent blaze orange or blaze pink.

Check weather reports before your visit.

Tell someone where you will be hunting and when you will return.

Be familiar with the area.

Dress properly and be prepared for the worst possible conditions.

Check hunting equipment before and after each outing and maintain it properly. Familiarize yourself with its operation before using it in the field.

Carry a spare set of dry clothing. Use layering techniques to prevent moisture while retaining body warmth. Always bring rain gear.

Carry a first aid kit.

Clearly identify your target before shooting.

Put hunting plans in writing (dates, times, location and expected time of return).

Be alert when hunting near developed areas and trails.

Wear hunter orange or another highly visible color.

Doing these things won’t guarantee a safe hunting trip, but they will go a long way towards lowering the risk for hunters.

Let’s face it, some of these items are simple common sense. Knowing what you are shooting at before pulling the trigger is essential. It’s the number one point for smart hunters. If there’s a question about whether the target is a deer, don’t shoot.

Letting people know where you’re going and when you’ll be back is similarly important. People’s lives have been saved because someone knew when to expect them to return and raised the alarm when they didn’t. Hunting accidents don’t have to involve firearms, after all. A broken ankle can make getting back safely a huge challenge.

There are also some basic guidelines for people who are out when they aren’t hunting during the season. It’s probably worth rethinking whether you need to be in the area if you’re planning for a stroll in an area open to hunters. But if you go, make yourself visible. Wearing blaze orange or blaze pink makes you more likely to be spotted and quickly recognized as human.

Protecting pets is also important. This probably isn’t the best time of year to let Fido run loose in the woods.

We hope Wisconsin hunters have a good season. We say this every year, but this really is one of the things that shows off Wisconsin’s outdoors in an incredible way. Safe hunting has a long tradition in our state. Continuing that tradition is everyone’s responsibility, whether you’re out trying to bag a deer or not.