Tragedy a reminder to always be safe

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 2, 2005

The state of Alabama has two sacred cows. One is football and the other is hunting. Hunting is extremely popular in our state and always has been.

The activity provides an estimated 5.8 million man-days of recreation per year for approximately 360,000 hunters.

Beyond common perception, hunting is actually one of the safest outdoor related activities that one can participate in. According to the National Safety Council’s study of outdoor recreation-related injuries, sports such as football, baseball, soccer and even billiards have a much higher incident rate than hunting.

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Unfortunately, our county has suffered the tragedy of an hunting accident. Currently the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the death of a 12-year old boy who accidentally shot himself and died.

According to the council’s study, there were five firearms related hunting incidents per 100,000 licensed hunters in the most recent year of their study. It of course is excluding the accident that was reported in Friday’s issue of the Times-Journal.

The fact that out of more than 100,000 hunters there were only five related firearms incidents is something all hunters should be proud of.

However, just because there is a strong non-incident rating, hunters should strive to eliminate or reduce this already impressive safety record.

Three of the most common causes for hunting incidents are falling from tree stands, failure to identify one’s target and self-inflicted wounds.

Hunting is a great past-time and we hope that our state continues to benefit from its investment.

However, we urge all hunters to follow the basic hunter safety rules.

Our community has lost one young soul, let’s work together to prevent this type of accident from happening again.

The Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries recommends all hunters abide by the following basic hunter safety rules:

Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times.

Treat every firearm with the respect due a loaded gun.

Be sure of your target and what is in front of it and beyond it.

Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot.

Wear a blaze orange cap or vest.

Use a small flashlight during low-light conditions to identify yourself as a human being.