Think Safety Before Opening Day
Hunters heading to the field for the opening weekend of pheasant season are encouraged to review safe hunting practices before they head out.
“Brushing up on safety should be part of every hunting plan,” said Megan Wisecup, recreational safety program supervisor with the DNR. “Go through the zone of fire with the hunting party, talk about avoiding target fixation and swinging on game.”
Iowa had an increase in its pheasant population for the first time in five years, which may also lead to an increase in pheasant hunters.
Wisecup said hunters who have been away from pheasant hunting for a year or two should get reacquainted with the techniques – be sure to walk in a straight line and know where members of the hunting party are at all times, especially in low visibility areas like terraces, tall switch grass and standing corn.
Wear plenty of blaze orange especially on the upper one third of your body. We are encouraging hunters to wear more blaze orange than the minimum required. The goal is to be seen by other hunters,” Wisecup said.
“The top pheasant hunting incidents all are related to not being seen. The shooter swings on a rooster, the victim is out of sight of the shooter or the rooster flew between the shooter and the victim.”
Wisecup said safety also extends to the canine companions.
"Avoid low shots to prevent injuring your hunting dog,” she said.
“The hunting plan and safety practices are all part of a responsible hunt. The goal at the end of the day is for everyone to return home safely.”
Tips for a Safe Hunt
· Iowa law requires hunters to wear at least one of the following articles of visible, external apparel with at least 50 percent of its surface area solid blaze orange: hat, cap, vest, coat, jacket, sweatshirt, shirt or coveralls.
· Hunters should stay in communication with each other and to stay in a straight line while pushing a field. Megan Wisecup with the DNR’s recreational safety programs said officers have investigated a number of incidents where hunters have been in a semicircle and had been shooting towards one-another.
· Discuss the hunting plan that spells out how the hunt will take place, each person’s role in the hunt and where each person will be at all times.
· Make sure to unload the gun when crossing a fence or other obstacle to avoid it accidentally discharging.
· Properly identify the target and what is beyond it. This will be especially important for the next few weeks if hunting in fields that still have standing corn.
· If hunting with a dog, never lay a loaded gun against a fence. Hunting dogs are usually excited to be in the field and could knock the gun over causing it to discharge.
· Share the hunt. Take someone new along to help keep Iowa’s great hunting tradition alive.
For more information contact Megan Wisecup, Recreational Safety Program Supervisor, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 515-238-4968.