Headlines from across the country are highlighting a rash of injuries and premature deaths because of unintended incidents involving firearms this fall hunting season.
One death in Ontario, one in Alberta, one in Saskatchewan and one in British Columbia, along with one non-fatal incident in B.C., are drawing attention to the vital need for training and safe practices while hunting.
• Oct. 17 (non-fatal)— In B.C., a hunter is shot after another man mistakes him for wildlife.
• Oct. 10 — In B.C., a Lake Country hunter was killed in an accident.
• Oct. 6— In Saskatchewan, son shot by father dies in hunting accident, RCMP say.
• Oct. 6 — In Alberta, young woman shot dead while hunting near Grande Prairie.
• Oct. 1 — In Ontario, Ottawa hunter dies after accidental shooting.
“This has been an exceptional year for the accidental discharge of a firearm, especially while hunting,” said Terry Pratt, an instructor with the Canadian Firearms Safety Course.
While it is impossible to identify a single reason for the spike in firearm-related hunting deaths, Pratt says common-sense safety needs to always be top-of-mind 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.”
Each province and territory has different hunting regulations. However, there are safety measures that need to be respected and good judgment that needs to be exercised whenever a firearm is used for hunting.
• Take a Canadian Firearms Safety Course. Refresher courses for experienced hunters are recommended.
• Wear a blaze orange so you are easily visible.
• When travelling to and from a hunting area, keep your firearm unloaded and locked.
• Do not hunt in populated areas. This includes rural communities, even where the population is relatively low.
• Do not hunt in an area where several hunters are already present.
• Do not hunt when visibility is impaired by conditions such as heavy fog or a lack of daylight.
• Never hunt while impaired, whether by a lack of sleep or substances such as alcohol or medication.
• 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.
• Never let your attention lapse. Focus on the task at hand and exercise extreme caution at all times while handling a firearm.
• Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
• Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
• Obtain permission before hunting on private property. Conflicts involving trespassing can quickly escalate and result in negative outcomes.
• Be familiar with the hunting regulations in your area.
For more information, contact the Chief Firearms Officer at 1-800- 731-4000 (ext. 8004) for Manitoba and 1-800-731-4000 (ext. 8502) for Saskatchewan.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 26, 2012