Gun safety always first priority in hunting

Can you believe it? We've made another year. Seems like we just got through the Y2K thing, doesn't it? Remember people buying up dried beans, powdered milk, garden seed, .22 bullets, big plastic pipe with end caps to bury things in? People were saving fruit jars to put their money in.

Remember how our computer systems would fail our financial markets, our clocks would run backward to the year 1900?

I reckon our great American technology pulled us through another crisis.

First thing you know, it will be corn planting time again and our guns, boats, bow and arrows and the like will be back in a corner somewhere.

The little 5-point buck that weighed 130 pounds and was shot at 60 steps now will weigh close to 180 pounds and was a good 250 yards at the first shot.

The stories of 2006 will grow into legendary feats.

We still have a few weeks of deer, duck, goose, rabbit and squirrel hunting in several areas. If you have any doubt, check with your state conservation/wildlife and fisheries department for specific rules, regulations and requirements.

Now, let's get to the meat of this issue. Remember, never ever get into or on a moving vehicle with a loaded firearm. Listen to me, you are courting trouble. Bad trouble. You are trying your dead level best to seriously injure or kill someone.

Folks, there ain't a deer, duck, turkey, gold monkey or any game animal worth hurting or killing some innocent bystander. Just don't do it.

By now the primary rut (deer) is over. Carry everything you have with you now: Rattling horns, decoys, grunt calls, deer lures; try 'em all. Those doe deer that missed or just didn't get tended to are still in circulation and so is ol' bucky boy. You will have to be on your Ps and Qs when the action starts.

If you were lucky enough to have received a new rifle for Christmas and haven't shot it, do so before your next hunt.

You just can't believe the people I've stumbled upon, smiling, new rifle in hand, and during the course of conversation heard, “Yeah, my ol' lady got me this hot little ol' super short mag rifle, scope, rings and bore sighted, for $679.” Ain't' never shot it. Bet you he can't hit a 5 gallon bucket at 100 yards.

Check your rifle out. A good general rule of thumb for most modern centerfire rifles is on at 25 yards, a freckle over 2 inches at 100 yards, and back on a little over 200 yards. You can kill a deer with this sight or scope setting.

Duck hunters: Be mindful that the water temperature is rather cold now. Getting in a boat now will demand having a good life jacket on. Being expelled into the water during a boat wreck with the ability to float might give you enough time to “gather your wits.”

Think about it. Everything on you will be wet and useless, except maybe an “O ringed” flashlight.

Tell someone where your group will hunt and when to expect you back.

Buy an inexpensive throwaway camera and put it with your hunting stuff. Oftentimes these cameras will hold lots of history. I am reminded of one such “picture box” found at our camp a couple of years ago. It was one of the buy-a-case-of-Cokes (or something) and get a free camera.

The developed film had pictures of “the boys” on it, back when they were 7, 8 or 9 years old “at the camp.” (My boy, Ruff; Conner and Mitchell, sons of Mike and Terry May; and Jason, son of Larry and Beth May.)

They are about grown now and in college. What a memorable, joyful part of the past from the old camp and from such an inexpensive item.

Take your small children and grandchildren with you to your hunting or fishing camp. One will be simply amazed at how things occur to be through their innocent eyes and minds. We learn as much as they do on our trips to the camp and in our treehouses. Be patient with the little ones and watch 'em. You will laugh as much as they do.

Margaret Ann and I hope everyone has a safe and prosperous 2007.

If you get a chance, take a kid hunting or fishing. For that matter, take anyone. One doesn't have to kill to enjoy the outdoors. Some of the best friends and meals are made “at the camp.”

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