The following editorial appeared in The Telegraph (Alton, Ill.) on Wednesday, Oct. 3:
(MCT) — A tranquil scene of a deer on Tuesday’s front page reminded us of the hunting season and the craziness that sometimes ensues.
Coincidentally, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources this week issued its annual reminder on the need for safety, so now seems as good a time as any to reflect on what the brotherhood of hunters should keep in mind during the next several weeks.
Deer hunting with bow and arrow began Monday and concludes Jan. 20 (closing only for the two seasons of firearm hunting). Youth firearm deer hunting starts on Saturday, Oct. 6, and concludes the next day. Full-permit, two-season firearm hunting occurs over seven days, Nov. 16, 17 and 18 followed by Nov. 29 and 30 and Dec. 1 and 2. Muzzleloader permits can also be used on Dec. 7, 8 and 9.
It doesn’t matter what you’re using, state officials are urging hunters to make safety a top priority. Knowledge of a weapon is everything, but knowing the surroundings can be just as important. For instance, what is just beyond the target you’re aiming at? Bullets can travel hundreds of yards.
State officials say there were 26 hunting incidents last year and one was fatal. There have been six incidents so far this year.
Surprisingly, not all incidents involve weapons. Last year, more than a dozen people fell from tree stands. Full body safety harnesses are available for such situations, to protect against injury, but a lot of people figure such accidents will never befall them. And so it goes.
This week, as you see hunters decked out in camo, stopping at coffeshops and stores on their way to the countryside, realize that what you’re seeing is past of a massive trend.
Last year, deer hunters took home 97,760 deer during the seven-day season. That’s slightly down from 2010 when it was 98,944.
That’s a tally that includes all 102 Illinois counties. The practice is just as great, if not more so, in our more rural, neighboring state of Missouri.
Hunting is a legally authorized, recreational opportunity that many people look forward to with gusto. And while there are only specific calendar days for hunting of any kind, there is always time on the calendar to remember to practice safety first.