Just days away from the most hunted day of 2013, those planning to join in on the action often take part in a only minimal amount of preparation before heading to the field. Stands are hung, food plots planted, and the finishing touches on the camp are being made. However, there are a few simple steps that must be taken to insure the legality and, most importantly, the safety of your hunt.
Days before your planned hunt, you should locate your hunter orange clothing to ensure that it is readily available for use. Appropriately worn hunter orange is a vital part of hunter safety and it has the potential to save hunters’ lives. Although we like to think we are the only person on the farm, trespassers, lost hunters, and even a family member concerned for your safety could be passing through. Hunters often go to their stands in the dark only to have the sunrise and see someone else sitting near them on a neighboring property. Hunter orange is required for all hunters as well as those accompanying them and should be worn the entire time in the field. This clothing must be the outermost layer and worn on the head, chest, back, and sides. For most hunters, an orange hat and orange vest are the items chosen to fulfill this legal requirement.
Secondly, check your stand prior to climbing in on opening day. Trees grow, wind blows, and the sun breaks down straps. All of these things and many more can lead to unsafe stand conditions. Do not trust a stand hung during a previous year. A weak strap can lead to a terrible accident causing death or serious injury. Along with checking your stand, a safety harness should be worn by all persons hunting from elevated positions. Although law does not require this, it will prevent a dangerous situation in the event you were to fall from your stand.
Lastly, a hunter should check their paperwork and make certain they have in possession the proper license, permit, and educational proof. All hunters born on or after Jan 1, 1975, should complete and be able to show proof in the field of hunter education completion. Also, a statewide hunting license shall be in possession and available for inspection. For all big game (deer, elk, turkey, and bear) you must have a full year license rather than a 1 or 5 day short term license. Next, a deer permit is required to be in possession and available for inspection and use in the field. All non-residents, regardless of land ownership in the state, are required to purchase non-resident license and deer permit.
Once a deer is taken, before moving the animal, the DATE, COUNTY, SEX, AND SPECIES blocks should be complete. This completion shows your intent to telecheck the animal as required by law. Before the head or hide are removed OR before midnight, whichever comes first, the animal must be telechecked and this number should be recorded. A physical tag on the animal is no longer required except when the animal leaves the hunters possession. A harvested animal in a persons possession is, by law, assumed to be that persons animal. The only way to change this assumption is by use of a carcass tag containing the hunters name, phone number, and telecheck confirmation number.
As you head to the field this season, make certain you have permission to hunt the location you plan to be hunting. Pick up a copy of this years hunting guide to review possible law changes that affect the area you hunt and review season dates and bag limits. Above all, safety is key to having an enjoyable hunt. Those violating game laws are stealing opportunities from those legally attempting to take game and should be reported. Contact 1-800-25-ALERT to report hunting violations or contact your local officer. Officer Bryan Hill can be reached at 270-847-5145 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. All questions should be directed to Fish and Wildlife Headquarters at 1-800-858-1549.