ALBANY – New York State Department of Environmental Conservation officials are reminding hunters to put safety at the forefront this fall when going afield.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos says even though hunting is safer than ever, hunting-related accidents and falls from tree stands still occur.
“Our investigations show that every hunting-related accident is preventable,” said Seggos. “The DEC urges New York’s 500,000 hunters to use common sense, follow the tenets taught in DEC’s Hunter Education Course, and put safety first in every hunting trip this season.”
Seggos says from tree stands have become a major cause of hunting-related injuries and fatalities in New York.
He says never climb in or out of a tree stand with a loaded firearm and read the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings before using the tree stand and check stands (including straps and chains) every season.
Hunters should also treat every firearm as if it is loaded, keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, keep their fingers off the trigger and outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot and be sure of the target and what is beyond.
The State DEC encourages all hunters to wear blaze orange or pink. Wearing orange or pink makes hunters highly visible in the field and prevents other hunters from mistaking a person for an animal or shooting in their direction.
New York State law requires hunters age 14 and 15 and their mentors who are hunting deer or bear with a gun to wear fluorescent hunter orange or pink that is visible from all directions-a shirt, jacket, or vest with at least 250 square inches of solid or patterned fluorescent orange or pink (the pattern must be at least 50 percent orange or pink) OR a hat with at least 50 percent fluorescent orange or pink.
During the past 10 years, no hunter wearing hunter orange was mistaken for game and killed in New York. Most big game hunters involved in firearm-related incidents were not wearing hunter orange.
The agency also reminds hunters that legal hours for big game hunting across the state are from official sunrise to sunset. It is the hunter’s responsibility to know when these times are in his or her location.
The DEC says hunting is an exciting sport, but it can also be physically demanding. Every year, some hunters suffer heart attacks and strokes. Walking in heavy clothing, carrying gear, and dragging a deer through the woods can require vigorous exertion and may be more stress than the heart can handle.
They say it is a good idea to exercise and build up endurance before hunting season. In addition, hunters should be prepared for winter conditions when venturing in the woods, inform a friend or relative of their whereabouts, and pack emergency supplies like flashlights, water and high energy foods.
For more information on these and other important hunting safety tips, visit the DEC’s website.