Don't become another statistic

Posted: Friday, August 09, 2002

Ready? Aim ... WAITAMINUTE!!!!!

Before squeezing the trigger, be certain. Is that rustling over there in the brush really big game?

It may not be as uncommon as one might think. In 1997 Alaska had the highest percentage of firearm-related hunting accidents in the nation, recording five fatalities that year out of 93,000 hunters.

The ratio may not be that high, but no one should die because of carelessness that could be avoided. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Officer Chris Johnson said hunting regulations for moose call for clear sight of a target.

"Hunters have to know what they're shooting," he said.

Without plain view, a hunter is unable to distinguish a legal kill from a juvenile or a cow. Johnson reiterated this general rule.

"You should always know what you're shooting at," he said. "You should always get a good look."

He said taking the firearm seriously is a start.

"Treat every gun as if it were loaded," Johnson said. "I don't carry a round in the chamber until I'm ready to shoot. I carry a magazine and I carry fully loaded, but never with a round in the chamber."

Hunters often go into the wilderness to blend in and to be disguised from their prey. Mimicking moose calls can also attract the attention of other hunters. Johnson said wearing bright colors over the drab camouflage could help save a hunter from a wayward shell.

"It's not a requirement to wear hunter orange, but it's a good move," he said.

And what is the first move, in the unlikely event that a fellow hunter, mistaken for game, takes a bullet?

"Get over to the person shot and do the basic ABC's of health: check the airways, stop the bleeding and help circulation."

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