Basic firearm rules are important for a safe hunt

The first of Iowa’s two shotgun deer seasons opens Saturday, Dec. 7, and while optimism for a successful hunt is the primary focus, hunters are encouraged to brush up on safe hunting practices.

Basic firearm rules are pretty straight forward: treat every firearm as though it were loaded; always point the muzzle in a safe direction; be sure of your target and what’s beyond it; keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

“Our deer hunting tradition is shared with our friends and our family,” said Megan Wisecup, hunter education administrator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “Practicing safe hunting techniques is important to make sure we all get home at the end of the day.”

An estimated 110,000 hunters are expected to take to the timber during Iowa’s two shotgun deer seasons and Wisecup said self-inflicted injuries and property damage continue to be prominent.

“Those incidents could be avoided by simply following the basic rules of firearm safety and ensuring there is a safe backdrop prior to tak-ing a shot,” she said. “Hunters tend to get fixated on

their target and when a deer is running, they forget about their surroundings. Look beyond your target and clearly identify the target before taking the shot,” Wisecup said. “You must be certain you have a clear, safe shot. Never point your firearm at anything you do not want to shoot.”

That advice can help to prevent self-inflicted wounds as well.

Wisecup encouraged hunter s to wear plenty of blaze orange and to discuss the hunting plan with everyone in the group.

“You want to be seen from all sides in the woods,” she said. “It is also important to discuss the hunting plan that will outline the role for each person and where they will be during the hunt. Plan your hunt and hunt your plan. It is critical to communicate with your hunting partners to ensure everyone knows where each other is at all times.”

In 2018, there were 12 deer hunting related incidents in Iowa: three personal injuries, eight property damage and one fatality.