Taking dead aim at hunter safety

Sitting for hours along a game trail in bone-chilling weather waiting for a moose or deer to appear can breed inattention to detail.

Sitting for hours along a game trail in bone-chilling weather waiting for a moose or deer to appear can breed inattention to detail.

Then a snap of a dry twig or a sudden movement can trigger an adrenalin rush and sometimes fool a big-game hunter into thinking they see what they want to see.

Unfortunately, shooting with any degree of uncertainty can have tragic consequences, like so many fatal hunting accidents where it’s a hunting partner who takes the bullet after being mistaken for a deer or moose.

It’s especially crucial at this time of the year, as hunting season in Central Alberta gets into full swing, for hunters to sit down and discuss among themselves when or when not to shoot, before heading into the bush to hunt as a team.

Big-game hunting season west of Rocky Mountain House opened in September. On Nov. 1, the season opens in Central Alberta.

While hunting big game has declined dramatically in this immediate in recent years, the hunt still appeals to some. Most are the serious hunters — they know the rules, are experienced and don’t mix alcohol with a rifle.

But sometimes experience can breed overconfidence, overriding caution and allowing boredom or adrenalin to play tricks.

The Canadian Safety Council says that no matter how many years one has scouted the bush during hunting season, refresher courses for experienced hunters are highly recommended.

The No. 1 rule most ignored by the seasoned hunters, and resulting in tragedy, is: “Rely on sight, not sound. Do not pull the trigger until you are absolutely certain that your target is indeed wildlife, and not a person.”

The safety council reported recently that heartbreaking headlines across Canada highlight a rash of injuries and deaths from unintended incidents involving firearms in hunting season. They include:

l A young woman shot dead while hunting near Grande Prairie with family members.

l An Ottawa hunter dying after accidental shooting.

l A hunter in B.C. shot after another man mistakes him for wildlife.

l A son shot by his father dies in hunting accident in Saskatchewan.

l A B.C. hunter killed in an accidental shooting.

Terry Pratt, an instructor with the Canadian Firearms Safety Course, says “this has been an exceptional year for the accidental discharge of a firearm, especially while hunting.”

Pratt says common sense must be the top priority for anyone handling a gun. “Once you’ve got a firearm in your hands, you have to be aware of your situation at all times.”

The safety council warns that safety measures must be respected and good judgment is a must whenever a firearm is used for hunting.

Alberta wildlife regulations once required hunters to wear blaze orange jackets so they were easily identifiable to other hunters. That’s no longer the case. But anybody walking into the bush without obvious blaze orange clothing is courting disaster. The safety council says “safety never goes out of season.”

It’s also important to remember that the fall season brings another threat, this time to motorists.

Deer and moose are in the midst of their annual rut; males chasing females and females luring males, with only one thing in mind — and it’s not avoiding man and man’s machines.

So motorists are urged to be vigilant, especially during dawn and dusk.

Deer have been deemed the most dangerous wild animal in Alberta. They have been linked to more human deaths than any other wild creature, as motorists hit them or swerve to avoid them, triggering collisions.

Hunters need to ease off on the trigger finger this year — that extra moment of caution could save a life.

And motorists need to ease off on the gas pedal — the life they save may be their own.

Rick Zemanek is a former Advocate editor.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Samantha Sharpe, 25, was stabbed to death at Sunchild First Nation on Dec. 12, 2018. Chelsey Lagrelle was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for manslaughter in a Red Deer courtroom on Tuesday. Photo contributed
Central Alberta woman sentenced to 4 1/2 years for stabbing friend to death in 2018

Chelsey Lagrelle earlier pleaded guilty to stabbing Samantha Sharpe during argument

Alberta's chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says Albertans need to keep making safe choices to start bending the curve back down. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
One new COVID-19 death in Red Deer, 257 additional cases province-wide

Red Deer sits at 459 active cases of the virus

Olds College logo
Olds College to host free, online agriculture celebration next month

Olds College will host a free live-streamed agriculture event next month. The… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services Logo
AHS upgrading online immunization booking tool

Alberta Health Services’ online booking tool for COVID-19 immunizations will be temporarily… Continue reading

Eric Rajah and Brian Leavitt were awarded with Meritorious Service Medals by the Governor General for co-founding the Lacombe-based charity A Better World. The agency’s goal is to reduce poverty and boost education in Africa and Afghanistan. (Contributed photo)
Co-founders of Lacombe-based charity receive one of Canada’s highest honours

Eric Rajah, Brian Leavitt of A Better World are honoured by the Governor General

Red Deer dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2020, file photo, FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during a virtual news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington. Wray is set to testify for the first time since the deadly Jan. 6 deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol. (Sarah Silbiger/Pool via AP)
FBI chief warns violent ‘domestic terrorism’ growing in US

FBI chief warns violent ‘domestic terrorism’ growing in US

In this image from KYMA law enforcement work at the scene of a deadly crash involving a semitruck and an SUV in Holtville, Calif., on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (KYMA via AP)
California crash kills 13 of 25 people crammed into SUV

California crash kills 13 of 25 people crammed into SUV

FILE - In this Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021 file photo, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny gestures as he stands behind a grass of the cage in the Babuskinsky District Court in Moscow, Russia. Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was transported to a prison 100km away from Moscow. Navalny was taken to a prison in Pokrov city after Moscow city court rejected appeal against his prison sentence on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
US sanctions Russian officials over nerve-agent attack

US sanctions Russian officials over nerve-agent attack

Neera Tanden, President Joe Biden's nominee for Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), appears beofre a Senate Committee on the Budget hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
Budget nominee Tanden withdraws nomination amid opposition

Budget nominee Tanden withdraws nomination amid opposition

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa on February 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Unanimous committee report calls on Trudeau not to trigger election during pandemic

Unanimous committee report calls on Trudeau not to trigger election during pandemic

Jahmil French arrives on the red carpet at the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto on March 11, 2018. Canadian actor Jahmil French of "Degrassi: The Next Generation" fame has died. His agent, Gabrielle Kachman, confirmed the news to The Canadian Press through a statement. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Canadian actor Jahmil French of ‘Degrassi: The Next Generation’ has died, says agent

Canadian actor Jahmil French of ‘Degrassi: The Next Generation’ has died, says agent

FILE - In this Feb. 6, 2005 file photo, Bunny Wailer performs at the One Love concert to celebrate Bob Marley's 60th birthday, in Kingston, Jamaica. Wailer, a reggae luminary who was the last surviving member of the legendary group The Wailers, died on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in his native Jamaica, according to his manager. He was 73. (AP Photo/Collin Reid, File)
Bunny Wailer, reggae luminary and last Wailers member, dies

Bunny Wailer, reggae luminary and last Wailers member, dies

Eddie Murphy, left, and Arsenio Hall appear in a scene from "Coming 2 America." (Quantrell D. Colbert/Paramount Pictures via AP)
33 years later, Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall return to Zamunda

33 years later, Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall return to Zamunda

Most Read