Hunter safety being stressed

Hunter safety being stressed

Posted: Thursday, September 23, 2010 9:02 pm

By JOHN BRANNON
Staff Reporter
As a state wildlife officer, Randy Huskey of Nashville has worked some bad hunting accidents in his time.
But the worst of all involved two 12-year-old boys. It happened in East Tennessee two years ago.
“It was a fatality accident. One of them shot the other. It was pretty horrible,” he said.
As the hunter education administrative officer for Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Huskey works to emphasize safety to all Tennessee hunters.
It is a subject that is much on his mind as the 2010-11 hunting seasons approach.
Huskey has some advice for adult hunters who take youngsters hunting.
“An adult should take only one youngster at a time hunting,” he said. “You can’t watch more than one at a time. One will get set off by himself and have to fend for himself. It’s not a good situation.
“Kids need to be watched at all times. As the adult, you need to remain in position where you can take immediate control of the hunting device (weapon). Don’t set the kids on a ridge and go off and leave them by themselves,” he said.
Youth education
When a child reaches age 10, Huskey said, enroll him or her in a hunter education course. It’s required by state law and it’s a “great idea.”
“When a child goes through a hunter education course, he is exposed to hunter ethics, hunter responsibility and laws about hunting, as well as the requirement to wear blaze orange and a hat. Got to wear both.
“He also gets exposed about how to transport firearms safely, how to make sure firearms are safely stored at home and in the field and how to carry it properly away from ammunition.
“The hunter education course is free. Even if you don’t hunt, you can benefit from it. It’s not just hunter education. It’s really firearms safety education, and it’s for anybody.”
The next one in Obion County will be held Monday, Tuesday, Sept. 30, Oct. 5 and 7 at 6:30 p.m. at Union City First Assembly of God at 1810 Pleasant Valley Ave. There will also be a shoot Oct. 9.
For more information, call Ken Asher at 796-1634 during the day or at 536-0651 at night or William Vickers at 885-3538. Those interested may also get information online at www.tnwildlife.org.
It works
“I can show you statistics that prove that hunter education works in Tennessee,” Huskey said. “It decreases the accident rate. Our accident rates are actually low. You have a better chance getting struck by lightning than you do getting shot while hunting. But still, people do get shot.”
And here are some precautions he offers Tennessee’s adult hunters:
• Safety equipment.
“The most important thing, the thing they don’t do, is they don’t wear their fall arrest and full body harness,” Huskey said. “When they are in a tree stand, they need to have that harness on. In fact, they ought to have it on from the time they leave the ground to the time they get back down. And it’s not that hard to do. It just takes a few minutes extra.
• Hunter orange.
“If you don’t wear it, you’re asking for it. When you’re in a tree stand, wear a hunter orange vest and the harness. Keep your finger off the trigger and the safety on,” he said.
• Muzzle.
“Control the muzzle (of the hunting weapon) at all times. If hunters could remember just that one point, it would save lives and injuries,” he said. “If the muzzle were pointed in a safe direction, accidents wouldn’t happen.”
Stats
Huskey said in 2008 there were two fatal firearm-related hunting accidents in the state, and one in 2009.
“The number of tree stand injuries in 2009 was 11, an increase from seven in 2008,” he said. “One tree stand incident was fatal in 2009.”
He emphasizes that proper use of a full arrest system and full body harness “will save your life.”
In 2009, there were 18 non-fatal tree stand accidents.
“In all but one of the 2009 tree stand incidents, no fall arrest system was used,” he said. “The simple act of using a fall arrest system and full body harness will save lives.”
Incidents
Here are the basic details of a few hunting accidents as gleaned from a TWRA report:
• In Morgan County on Nov. 26, 2009, a 15-year-old suffered a mild concussion when he fell out of a ladder stand. He was not wearing a fall arrest system or a body harness.
“The victim had shot a deer and was beginning to descend the ladder. The victim lost balance and fell to the ground.”
• In Lincoln County on Nov. 30, 2009, a 35-year-old hunter suffered multiple injuries when his firearm discharged. The injuries were not fatal.
“The victim was pulling (his) firearm toward him by the muzzle when it discharged, striking him in the hand. The victim then lost his balance and fell from the tree stand.”
• In Jefferson County on Dec. 19, 2009, a 47-year-old man fell from a ladder stand, suffering broken vertebrae and pelvis.
“The victim had consumed several alcoholic beverages and subsequently fell from the tree stand. The victim could not remember anything about the fall.”
• In Meigs County on March 28, 2009, a 34-year-old hunter was shot by a 64-year-old hunter who mistook him for a turkey. The victim was hit from a distance of about 50 yards.
“The shooter was stalking a turkey that had walked through a field. The shooter followed the path the turkey had taken and entered the woods on his hands and knees in an attempt to stalk the turkey. The shooter saw what he mistakenly identified as a turkey’s white head  and fired upon the victim.”
The wounds were not fatal.
• In Gibson County on Dec. 21, 2009, a beaver hunter suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound, which was fatal.
“The victim was beaver hunting in an attempt to alleviate some beaver damage. (He) was crossing a log when he slipped and fell from the log, losing control of (his) firearm. The firearm discharged and struck the victim in the head. The firearm safety was off.”
 Hunting seasons
Dates of the 2010-11 hunting season in Tennessee and other handy information may be acquired from the worldwide web at http://www.state.tn.us/twra/.

Published in The Messenger 9.23.10

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