Fort McCoy News October 24, 2014

Hunters: Take 'safety first' approach while afield

The Installation Safety Office (ISO) reminds hunters to take a "safety first" approach while hunting at Fort McCoy.

"All hunters should brush up on hunting safety rules prior to the hunting season," said ISO Manager Randy Eddy.

Photo for hunter safety article

Safe hunting practices, especially with firearms, can prevent injuries and even death. Eddy offered some advice for hunters to remember.

"Hunters should become familiar with the designated area they will be hunting in," Eddy said.

"These areas are well defined, and many of them are adjacent to restricted areas on the installation, such as the impact areas."

Eddy said several times over the years hunters have gotten lost and wandered into restricted areas.

"Hunters should carry a GPS or compass with them and know the boundaries of their hunting area," he said.

He also advised looking out for other hunters.

"There can be many hunters in the same designated hunting area, so it is critical to know the target they are shooting at and also what is beyond the target," Eddy said. "Hunters should be respectful to other hunters."

ISO Safety Specialist Debra Heise-Clark offered the following additional hunter safety tips:

• Always point the muzzle in a safe direction. Don't point a firearm or bow at anything not intended to be shot. Keep finger out of the trigger guard until ready to fire. And, always keep the safety on until ready to fire.

• Treat every firearm or bow with the same respect as a loaded gun or nocked arrow. Every time picking up a firearm, check to see if it is loaded. Be sure the chamber and magazine are empty and that the action is open until ready to be fired.

• Unload firearms and unstring conventional bows when not in use. Know how the equipment operates. Store and transport firearms and ammunition separately and under lock and key. Store firearms and bows in cool, dry places. Use gun or trigger locks and guards when not in use.

• Never climb a fence, or tree or a ladder with a loaded firearm or bow and arrow. Never jump a ditch or cross difficult terrain with a loaded firearm or nocked arrow. Never face or look down the barrel from the muzzle end. Be sure the only ammunition you carry correctly matches the gauge or caliber of your weapon. If you fall, be sure to disassemble the gun and check the barrel from the breech end for obstruction. Also, carry a field cleaning kit.

• Be sure you know where your companions are at all times. Never swing your gun or bow out of your safe zone-of-fire. If in doubt, never take a shot.

• Wear hearing and eye protection. Vibrations from gun blasts can cause loss of hearing. Wear glasses to protect your eyes from escaping gases, burnt powder (especially black powder shooting), and other debris.

For more information about hunting safety or other safety topics, call the ISO at 608-388-3403.

(Information courtesy of the Installation Safety Office.)