OTTUMWA — Hunting is a favorite pastime for many Iowans. Now that fall is back, they can get ready for the hunting season.
Although hunting can be thrilling for hunters, if precautions are not taken, hunting can pose physical harm or even death. Wapello County Conservation Board Director Rick Tebbs said he hears of hunting accidents each fall and wanted to give safety tips to residents as they get ready for the hunting season.
Tebbs said the biggest tip he could give someone is to use a “buddy system.”
“Having someone with you in case something happens,” Tebbs said. “For me, my day in the field is much more enjoyable when I’m able to share the memories with someone.”
If a person chooses to hunt alone, Tebbs said that person should notify a family member or friend of their return. In case a person decides to change their safety plans, Tebbs said the person should use written signs.
“Have an aerial map and circle where you will be hunting,” he said. “I know of several stories where this saved someone’s life after they were hanging by their safety strap, unable to get back in the tree stand. Hanging upside down for a prolonged period could cause kidney failure and subsequent death.”
Tebbs said tree stands and gun malfunctions are among the common instances of accidents but don’t have to be. “Statistics tell us that one-third of all deer stand hunters will experience a tree stand fall,” he said. “While you are in the tree stand, make sure you have a properly fitted safety vest that is secured to the tree.
“Hunting weapons should be inspected prior to going to the field to make sure all safety mechanisms are properly functioning,” he said. “Guns should be checked for a functioning safety, and a bow’s string and pullies should be in good condition. Loading a gun or bow should be one of your last steps.”
Another common problem is hypothermia. Tebbs said this can happen after an accident occurs in the water, especially after boat capsizing.
“Hunting accidents involving drowning or hypothermia,” he said, “can be avoided by several simple precautions. Don’t overload the boat, wear a lifejacket, don’t motor in the dark if you’re unfamiliar with the body of water (wait until light), and watch for changing weather conditions.”
As residents get ready for hunting season, Tebbs hopes residents will go over safety tips so they can continue hunting without worrying about accidents.
“Taking a small amount of time to think about safety doesn’t compare to a lifetime of a bad memory,” Tebbs said. “Good luck this fall and remember to share your wealth of knowledge and experience by taking someone new to a field — stressing safety as part of the experience.”