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Hunters should take precautions with firearms

Comanche County_Comanche County officials continue to investigate a shooting accident that happened over the weekend.  Authorities say that when a man who had gone hunting never came home, people began looking or him.  He was found at the base of a tree stand, dead from a gunshot wound.  The sheriff's department says the man accidentally shot himself, and identified him as a Hispanic man in his late 60s. 

How can hunters avoid tragedies such as this?

In a word - caution.  Hunting instructors in the area say that getting into too big of a rush can cause major problems, no matter whether it's a bow and arrow, or gun. Game Warden Bill Hale says it only takes a few simple steps to stay safe.  "The first one is know your target and know what's beyond it," he said.  He says the importance of knowing your target could mean the difference between a person's life and death.  "The second one is treat every firearm like it's loaded," said Hale.  He says that by doing this, you will never have to assume whether a firearm is or isn't potentially lethal.  "You control the moat," he said.  "You control the end the bullet comes out of."

Hale says you shouldn't point a gun at something you do not intend to shoot.  However, he says that most hunting accidents don't even involve firearms.  "It's broken legs, broken necks - where they just simply fall out of the tree."  He also says that the number of hunting accidents involving guns in last year's statistics was pretty slim.  "We put thousands of people in the field, hunting all the species of all kinds.  We had four reported accidents, one of which was fatal," he said. 

Hale says that it is improper to tie a rope to the trigger when lowering it from a tree to the ground.  He says if you do that, you are asking for trouble.  Safety instructor John Goldstron says you shouldn't try to multitask with a gun while you are climbing.  "Don't try to carry your gun as you go up a ladder - you're gonna fall off," he said. 

Above all, their advice to hunters is to take their time.  "People are in a rush, and hurry to get to go hunting or fishing," said Goldstron.  "They need to take a little bit more time and be careful with the firearms and the bows, and get everything set properly, and then go."

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