Most hunters in Arkansas play it safe while enjoying their hobby, and that's reflected in the number of accidents from last year's hunting season. Statistics from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission reveal that fewer people were injured in hunting accidents during the 2002-2003 hunting season as compared to the 2001-2002 season. This is the third straight year that incidents have declined in Arkansas.
There were 20 reported accidents during this past hunting season compared to 28 accidents the previous season. Although hunting accidents are down, hunting-related fatalities stands at five -- one more than the same number that died the preceding season. A significant number of the accidents reported this season have involved falls from tree stands.
According to AGFC hunter education coordinator Joe Huggins, educating hunters is the reason for the low number of accidents. "Education plays a big part in reducing the number of hunting accidents each year," Huggins said. About 18,000 students of all ages successfully complete hunter education courses in Arkansas each year.
With deer season having kicked off Oct. 1 in Arkansas, Huggins said there a few things that hunters need to remember to have a safe and successful hunt.
* Always follow basic gun safety rules.
* Keep good muzzle control. Make sure you identify your target before you shoot. Once a shot is fired, you can't call it back.
* Wear blaze orange when moving around in the woods. A hat and vest are required during modern gun or muzzleloader deer season, bear and elk season.
* If a hunter sees another hunter, don't startle the other hunter. Let the hunter know in a calm voice your location.
One of the most important habits to get into as a hunter is letting other people know where you're going to hunt and when you'll be back.
"Each person has to do their part while they're hunting. Identify what you're shooting at," he said.
Hunter education classes are being conducted year round in different locations around the state. Persons interested in attending the course can find course dates and locations on the AGFC Web site at http://www.agfc.com/education/hunter_edu... or call 1-800-482-5795.