DNR officials urge deer hunters to carefully identify their targets and make certain they have a safe backstop before pulling the trigger. Minnesota's firearms deer season, which opens Nov. 4, is one of Minnesota's most popular hunting traditions, with an estimated 400,000 hunters expected to go afield on opening day.
Hunting remains one of the safest outdoor recreational activities, according to Col. Bill Bernhjelm, the DNR Enforcement Division chief. "Hunters contribute to this safety record by practicing good firearm etiquette," Bernhjelm said. "Taking your best shot at the right time ensures a safe and productive hunt. Until your target is fully visible and in good light, don't even raise your weapon. Know what is in front of and behind your target and determine that you have a safe backstop or background, because the bullet will usually pass through the primary target and strike whatever is behind it."
Deer hunters also need to keep track of buildings, roadways and other hunters, Bernhjelm said. "Don't ever shoot at sound. It may be from a child, a hunter or an innocent bystander. Know the identifying features of the game being sought. Never shoot at flat, hard surfaces like water, rocks or steel, because of ricochets.
"Be certain of your target and your line of fire," Bernhjelm said. "Keep your trigger finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot."
Deer hunters are also reminded to:
-- Wear blaze orange for their own protection and the safety of other people.
-- Treat every firearm, even when believed to be unloaded, with the same respect due a loaded firearm.
-- Be sure that the barrel and action are clear of obstructions.
-- Avoid all horseplay with a firearm.
-- Avoid climbing a tree or jumping a ditch with a loaded firearm.
-- Never pull a firearm toward you by the muzzle.
-- Always ask permission before entering private land, and as a guest of the landowner, act accordingly.
-- Store firearms and ammunition separately beyond the reach of children and careless adult.;
-- Avoid alcoholic beverages or other mood-altering drugs before or while shooting.
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