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SEPTEMBER  18, 2003

BOWHUNTERS URGED TO PRACTICE SAFETY AFIELD

Safety is always a mandatory consideration for bowhunters because they scale trees, use tree-stands, hunt in remote areas and hunt with razor-sharp broadheads.

"There probably hasn't been a year in the past 20 where someone hasn't fallen out of a tree or tree-stand, or cut themselves with a broadhead while afield in the archery season," said Keith Snyder, Game Commission hunter-trapper education chief. "But most of these accidents can be avoided if bowhunters use proper fall-restraint devices and carefully handle broadheads."

Many of the dangers bowhunters face can be eliminated or reduced considerably with common sense and foresight. It's also a huge plus to be in shape, to get plenty of sleep before you hunt, and to move slowly with firm footing when afield.

"The potential to get hurt while hunting deer is a threat all archers must be mindful of from the time they enter the woods until they leave," Snyder explained. "Climbing trees and handling broadhead-tipped arrows, dragging deer considerable distances and sitting 10 to 20 feet off the ground in trees for hours on end, is very serious business. If you make a mistake, it may very will plague you for the rest of your life."

There are a variety of safety tips all bowhunters should consider before they head afield. They include:

 

Make sure someone knows where you're hunting and when you expect to return home. Leave a note or topographic map with your family or a friend. Pack a cellular telephone for emergencies.

 

 

Always use a fall-restraint device - preferably a full-body harness - when hunting from a treestand. Wear the device from the moment you leave the ground until you return. Don't climb dead, wet or icy trees. Stay on the ground on blustery days.

 

 

Get in good physical condition before the season starts. Fatigue can impact judgment, coordination and reaction time. Staying physically fit makes a difference.

 

 

Always carry a whistle to signal passersby in case you become immobile. A compass and matches or lighter also are essential survival gear items to have along. An extra flashlight bulb also can be helpful.

 

 

Use a hoist rope to lift your bow and backpack to your treestand. Trying to climb with either will place you at unnecessary risk.

 

 

Don't sleep in a treestand! If you can't stay awake, return to the ground.

 

 

Always carry broadhead-tipped arrows in a protective quiver.

 

 

If you use a mechanical release, always keep your index finger away from the trigger when drawing.

 

 

Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for all equipment and check your equipment before each use.

 

 

Practice climbing with your treestand before dawn on the opening day of the season. Consider placing non-slip material on the deck of your tree-stand if it's not already there.

 

JUST IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING

 

Bowhunters may use deer calls, attractant and cover scents, mechanical broadheads, lighted sight pins and mechanical releases. However, it is illegal to use baits, salt blocks, liquid mineral mixes and transmitter-tracking arrows. Bowhunters may not possess a firearm while afield.

 

 

Tree-stands and climbing devices that cause damage to trees are unlawful to use or occupy unless the user has written permission from the landowner. Tree-stands - or tree steps - penetrating a tree's cambium layer cause damage. It is unlawful to construct or occupy constructed tree-stands on State Game Lands, state forests or state parks.

 

 

Bowhunters must wear at least 250 square inches of fluorescent orange clothing while moving to and from stand locations during any overlap with fall turkey hunting seasons and the early muzzleloader and special firearms antlerless deer seasons. The orange may be removed when the bowhunter is in a tree or ground stand, but in doing so, a 100-square inch or larger orange band must be displayed within 15 feet of his or her hunting location.

 

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