DNR Reminding Hunters to Be Safe

DNR Reminding Hunters to Be Safe Click to Enlarge Photo: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

(KNSI) - With the pheasant season opening Saturday and the firearms deer season on the horizon, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Enforcement education program coordinator Jon Paurus is reminding hunters to keep safety top of mind.

"Hunting is a very safe sport, but the Department of Natural Resources wants to make sure every hunter comes home safely at the end of the hunt. Hunters should keep in mind the basic rules of firearm safety, which are: treat every firearm as if it's loaded and keep your finger off the trigger. Always know what your target is and what's beyond it, and always watch your muzzle."

During September, there were four hunting-related firearms incidents, which was the highest since 2013, when the total for the year was 17. More than a half-million people hunt each fall in Minnesota.

The three most common factors in hunting-related firearms incidents are careless handling, not knowing the safe zone of fire and not being sure of what’s beyond the target.

Paurus says he advises anyone who plans to hunt to complete a firearms safety course.

"We've seen a direct correlation in the fact that we've had a decrease in the number of injuries related to hunting and firearms incidents as we've had more students taking our classes."

While the number of incidents – and particularly fatal incidents – is below long-term historical averages, even one is one too many, Paurus said. As recently as 2015, there were no hunting-related fatalities in the state. During the 1960s, by comparison, as many as 29 hunters were killed.

More than a half-million people hunt each fall in Minnesota.

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