As rifle season opens for deer hunters across the province, visions of venison steaks and stews can start to make the mind wander. Before you head to camp or pull the trigger, glance over these deer hunting safety tips and regulation reminders to keep yourself focused, safe, and within the rules.
1.Make sure your paperwork is in order
Firearms licence, outdoors card, and game seal are the essentials most hunters need to worry about. If you are hunting with dogs make sure you have a licence for them too and that it’s with you. If you’re taking an ATV, have your ownership and insurance on hand as well.
2.Check your stands
If you’re using a tree stand check the stability and integrity of it, and the tree it’s in. Over the year it could have become weathered or worse, been the subject of vandalism. Once you’ve determined the stand and the tree itself are secure, don’t forget to use good tree stand safety practices like using a harness and having three points of contact on the stand at all times.
3.Wear the right orange
Not any old orange will do. Anyone hunting during the gun season needs to wear hunter orange, which is that bright blaze orange that almost glows. You must wear a hunter orange hat and have 400 square inches of solid hunter orange above the waist. Solid means that mesh does not count. Neither do construction-style safety vests or orange camo. Click here for all the do’s and don’ts of hunter orange.
4.Carry a case
If you are entering or exiting the woods outside of legal shooting times, you have to remember to keep your gun encased. To be considered encased, a firearm must be enclosed on all six sides.
5.Be the life of the party hunt
If you have a doe in your sight and you aren’t the tag holder, make sure that the person in your party that holds the tag is hunting that day and is readily available. The person holding the seal must be within five kilometres of everyone in the party and everyone must be able to reliably and immediately communicate with the other members of the party. Make sure your walkie-talkies are fully charged and you have back-up batteries.
6.Tag it on-site
If you’re successful and down a deer, make sure the seal is attached immediately. That means before you start taking pictures, and well before you start taking it back to camp. For deer, the tag should be on the base of the antler or tied with a string or wire through the ear. Instructions are on the back of your tag, read them if you are unsure.
The most successful hunts aren’t just the ones where game seals are used, they are the ones where everyone is prepared.
Be sure to check the Ontario Hunting Regulations before you head out. Find them here.