(WHNT) — There were no hunting-related fatalities reported during the 2021-22 season — and officials say they’re hoping for a repeat this year.
Chuck Sykes is the director of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ (ADCNR) Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division. He says zero fatalities last season was a “monumental occurrence.”
“That’s the first time since WFF began keeping records in 1973 that we have had zero hunting-related fatalities,” Sykes said. “I certainly hope we can carry this over to this upcoming season.”
Although the last hunting season included no fatalities, there were a few accidents and injuries.
Captain Marisa Futral, the hunting education coordinator with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division, says those injuries included five treestand accidents and 10 firearms accidents, with four of those being self-inflicted.
Futral says that just because there weren’t any fatalities reported last year doesn’t mean this year will be the same.
“Complacency will get you in trouble,” Futral said. “I do think word is getting out about our safety outreach, on both treestands and firearms. Hunter education definitely helps, and our PSAs (public service announcements) are helping.”
Futral offered the following tips for treestand safety ahead of the 2022-23 season:
- Always wear a safety harness when inside the treestand, or climbing in and out of it.
- Attach a safety strap to the tree to keep from falling more than 12 inches.
- Inspect the safety harness for wear and tear every time before using it.
- Follow manufacturing rules for the safety harness and stand.
- Always have a plan when hunting, or a buddy, if possible. Let someone know your exact location while hunting, when you will return, and who is with you before you leave home.
- Follow the three-point rule of treestand safety. That rule can be found here.
- Never leave for a hunt without emergency signal devices like a cell phone, walkie-talkie, signal flare, whistle, and flashlight.
- Watch for changing weather conditions.
- Always make sure you pick a live, straight tree to put your treestand in.
- Never leave a treestand installed for more than two weeks.
- Always use a haul line to pull up gear and unloaded firearms or bow to your treestand once it has been properly installed.
- Always know your physical limitations.
ADCNR also provided tips on how to safely use a firearm:
- Treat every firearm like it’s loaded.
- Keep the barrel of your firearm pointed in a safe direction. Never point at anything you don’t plan on shooting.
- Be sure of your target before you fire a weapon.
- Never shoot at water or a hard, flat surface.
- Don’t ever use a scope for identifying the target, use binoculars.
- Store guns and ammunition separately.
- Make sure the barrel and action of your firearm are clear of obstructions.
- Unload firearms when you aren’t using them.
- Do not use drugs or alcohol when hunting or shooting. Futral says even some over-the-counter medications can cause impairments.
To learn more about hunting safety in Alabama, visit outdooralabama.com.