Tips for hunters, new gun owners

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, January 1, 2013

With deer season in full swing and the post-rut phase in full force, hunters are taking to the woods in search of a trophy whitetail buck. Most outdoorsman and hunters are well versed in gun safety, but still accidents will happen.

Over the course of last weekend, two separate incidents occurred involving hunters and their firearms.

One of the accidents happened when a hunter attempted to put his gun in the car after a hunting trip. The rifle discharged and the bullet struck a passenger in the vehicle.

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Captain Chris Lewis, head of the Pike County branch of the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, said that the incident could have been avoided with a little precaution.

“One of the easiest things to remember is just unload your firearm before putting in a vehicle,” said Lewis. “If possible, unload the gun and put it in a case. The guns don’t need to beat around in a vehicle.”

The second incident occurred when a hunter tripped and fell, and his side arm discharged injuring two other individuals.

Lewis called the incident “a freak deal,” but said that lessons can still be learned.

“It was well after dark, and the guys were making their way out of the woods,” said Lewis. “It wasn’t a hunting accident, but it is always good to know what is around you when handling a gun.”

Lewis said that hunters, and new gun owners, should know what is beyond their target.

“All gun owners should take in to account what could be past their target,” Lewis said. “Visualize and identify the target, don’t just shoot a movement. A lot of injuries and misfires could be avoided by just knowing what you are shooting at.”

Historic firearm manufacture Remington put together what they call “The 10 Commandments of Firearms Safety.”

On the list are tips about using proper eye and ear protection, the correct type of ammunition for your weapon and how to handle a gun when not in use. It’s also important people to wear a bright color, such as hunter orange, to distinguish themselves as human to other hunters.

Not hunting alone is also a good way to ensure there is a way to get help if an accident does happen.

The state of Alabama offers multiple hunters’ safety courses that help teach gun safety. For more information on what course is right for you, contact the hunter’s education office online at

The Pike County Sheriff’s Department and the Troy Police Department also offer firearm safety classes periodically. Check with the individual departments for their schedule.