Make deer hunting season enjoyable, safe

As Wednesday’s firearm deer season opener nears, Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers encourage hunters to brush up on safety tips and hunting regulations to ensure a safe, enjoyable experience.

Firearm deer season is a special time of year in Michigan. It brings family and friends together in celebration of our state’s great outdoor heritage. Staying safe, knowing the laws and being good stewards of our resources will help hunters have a memorable outing.

Regardless of where deer are harvested in Michigan, the DNR encourages all hunters to voluntarily take them to the nearest check station to help with disease surveillance. In addition, big-game hunters who travel outside of Michigan should be aware of new regulations restricting the importation of harvested cervids.

Here are some general safety tips:

– Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.

– Keep your finger away from the trigger and outside the trigger guard until you are ready to fire.

– Keep the safety on until you are ready to fire.

– Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.

– Be certain of your target, and what’s beyond it, before firing.

– Know the identifying features of the game you hunt.

– Make sure you have an adequate backstop. Don’t shoot at a flat, hard surface or water.

– Unload the firearm before running, climbing a fence or tree, or jumping a ditch.

– Wear a safety harness when hunting from an elevated platform. Use a haul line to bring the unloaded firearm up and down the raised platform.

– Avoid alcoholic beverages or behavior-altering medicines or drugs before or during a hunt.

– Always wear a hat, cap, vest or jacket of hunter orange, visible from all sides, during daylight hunting hours, even if hunting on private land. The law also applies to archery hunters during firearm season.

– Always let someone know where you are hunting and when you plan to return. This information helps conservation officers and others locate you if you become injured or lost.

– Carry a cell phone into the woods. Not only does it let you call for help if necessary, but newer phones emit a signal that can help rescuers locate you. Also consider downloading a compass or flashlight app.

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