Hunters urged to be safety-conscious

Posted: Friday, July 09, 2004

Every year on opening day hunters across the state take to the woods in the hopes of bagging a bull, and officials advise people not to let themselves get too caught up in the excitement.

"It's important that hunters don't lose sight of safety issues," said Sgt. Glenn Godfrey of the Alaska State Trooper's Bureau of Wildlife Management.

The shooting sports require a tremendous amount of responsibility and chief among those is the ability and knowledge to handle a firearm safely.

"Always know your target and what's beyond it," advised Godfrey. "Some of the high-powered rifles can send a round right through and out the other side of a moose or other animal." He said he's even know people that have accidentally dropped two animals with one shot only one of which was legal.

Before squeezing off a round, hunters should always be sure that there are no other animals, people or vehicles behind the animal that could be injured by a missed shot or a round punching through it's intended target.

Many hunters also avoid carrying their rifles with a round in the chamber. Some bear hunters moving through dense cover may make exception to this unwritten rule, but in this situation the rifle is carried in the ready position, not slung over the shoulder.

Godfrey advised anyone carrying a loaded rifle to show extreme caution. He added "Hunters shouldn't be going up and down tree stands, in and out of boats, through ditches or any other situation where they could accidentally discharge a loaded firearm should they slip and fall."

Hunters should also never pull the trigger unless they are 100-percent positive they have properly identified a legal game animal. "Be careful, don't rush it," said Godfrey.

Also, although some hunters may use their rifle's telescopic scope to scan for game, this is typically considered poor form.

"I always suggest people invest in some good binoculars. You can see more with them when glassing for game and they provide a better field of view when trying to count brow tines or see if a bull has a 50-inch spread," said Godfrey.

He also added while shopping for binoculars, hunters should seriously consider a few other items. "A global position system, map and compass, and a cell phone can help if someone gets lost or into trouble. It's not enough to just have them though, people should be sure they know how to use them too," said Godfrey.

"It's also important that hunters let someone know where they're going and when they expect to be back, that way we know where to look for them if something happens."

Godfrey also pointed out that booze and bullets should never go together. "It's a potentially deadly combination," he said.

ATV's and boat are still considered motor vehicles and it is illegal to operate either one while under the influence of alcohol.

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