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Safety measures vital as hunting season approaches

Submitted photo Veteran hunters understand that safety is of first and foremost importance.

CHARLESTON — Entering the fall hunting season, it is important for new and veteran hunters to remember that hunter safety is the first and most important step towards a successful hunt.

Regardless of experience level, it is always good practice to implement simple safety steps that make a big difference. West Virginia University Extension Service Wildlife Specialist Sheldon Owen wants hunters to know that they can have fun while also making sure safety comes first.

“West Virginia is blessed (and perhaps, cursed) with uneven, rocky and sometimes slippery terrain,” Owen said. “Be vigilant when walking through the woods to ensure secure footing. Check that your footwear is appropriate and in good condition to provide grip and stability.”

“The most common cause of serious injury while hunting is falling from elevated stands,” he notes. “Always wear a hunter safety harness while climbing into the stand, hunting from it and climbing down. And, always unload your firearm before climbing into or out of a tree stand or hunting blind.”

“Remember to treat every firearm as if it were loaded. While hunting, keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, keep the safety on and keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot,” Owen continues. “Always clearly identify your target and what is beyond that target. Bullets can travel a long distance, so make sure that it is safe to shoot in the direction in which you are aiming.”

“It is always a good idea to let someone know where you will be hunting and what time you expect to return. Make sure your clothing is appropriate for the weather and carry water to stay hydrated. Brush up on the current hunting regulations and wear your hunter orange when required,” Owen said.

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