Nebraska is having another successful rifle deer season. Hunters are already home safe and sharing stories with others about their hunting adventures.
The average number of hunters in our state annually is more than 125,000. Last year we only had three injuries related to hunting, with no fatalities. It is amazing to imagine a sport that involves each person carrying a firearm or archery equipment and fewer than 0.000024 percent were hurt.
Knowing those statistics, hunting is actually safer than bowling or badminton. However, that does not mean we should not follow safe practices in the field. Those safe practices, which are taught in our hunter education programs (visit outdoornebraska.ne.gov/huntereducation), are a major factor in those numbers.
Before you head into the woods, here are a few safety tips you should follow.
Have a hunting plan: As a kid, you always told your parents where you were going, with whom and when you would be home. The same is true for a hunting trip. Leave the information with a reliable person you can depend on to notify the authorities in case you do not return as scheduled. Create a map showing locations of tree stands or blinds you will use. Visit hunter-ed.com/images/pdfs/huntplan.pdf to get a hunting plan you can print out.
Mark your trail: Just because you know where you are hunting does not mean others know where you are.
Bring a flashlight: Actually, bring several — and extra batteries. I wear a headlamp, use a hand flashlight for blood trailing and carry glow sticks. They are cheap, last a long time and are a great way to mark a blood trail.
Pack extra orange material: This could be a hat, vest or even a handkerchief. Wearing hunter orange during the rifle season is required but not during archery season. You want to be seen by other hunters walking to and from your hunting area.
Make the call: Cell phones are great for communication between hunters. However, many places have little service. Consider using walkie-talkies. Also, take your phone off mobile data and turn on power save. A dead battery cannot call 911.
Be safe in a stand: Always use a fall-arrest system when hunting from a tree stand. This is gear needed to keep a tree stand hunter from falling to the ground.
Pack a small first aid kit: You never know when you might need it.
Watch were you walk: Tripping over downed branches, corn stubble or rolling your ankle on a walnut can be dangerous.
Stay safe and shoot straight out in the woods this hunting season.