ESCANABA - Michigan's fields and forests will soon be alive with blaze orange hunting gear. The Delta County Sheriff's Department wants both visitors and residents of Delta County to know some important safety rules before setting out to deer camp.
- Your hunting license and the identification used to purchase it (Michigan driver's license, identification card, or DNR sport card) must be carried with you at all times while hunting.
- All hunters must wear an item of clothing (hat, cap, vest, jacket, or rain gear) in "hunter orange"; it must be the outermost garment; and it must be visible from all sides. If it is camouflage, at least 50 percent of the garment must be orange.
- Hunting hours begin approximately one-half hour before sunrise and last until approximately one-half hour after sunset.
- Safety zones include all areas within 150 yards (450 feet) of an occupied building, house, cabin, barn, or other farm building. You may not hunt in this area or shoot at any animal within this area, unless you have the written permission of the property owner.
- It is illegal to drink alcohol or use intoxicating drugs before hunting.
Sheriff Ballweg also wants hunters to take the following precautions to prevent injury or death while hunting this season:
- Familiarize yourself with the area where you will be hunting
- Never assume you are alone in the woods
- Never assume other hunters are acting responsibly.
- If sitting against a rock or tree, make sure it is wider than your shoulders so you are not mistaken for a target.
- Be 100 percent sure of your target before shooting.
Sheriff Ballweg urges all hunters to act responsibly this season. "Reacquaint yourself with Michigan's hunting laws and follow these safety tips to prevent a tragedy from happening this year."
The sheriff's department also reminds motorists that with fall and the hunting season in full swing, deer populations will be on the move. This activity heightens the chance of a car/deer crash occurring.
Last year more than 61,000 accidents in Michigan involved deer. Most often, you'll see a deer near dawn or dusk. Motorists are encouraged to look beyond the beam of their headlights for eyes of deer that may be near the path of your vehicle.
Trying to dodge a deer is not a good idea. Deer often move erratically and swerving may cause you to lose control of your vehicle. The best way to avoid a deer/car collision is to slow your car down, flash your headlights and/or blow your horn to try and scare the animal. Deer travel together, if you see one chances are others are coming so please proceed with caution.
Remember to heed deer crossing signs. If you do hit a deer make sure you report it to your local police or the sheriff's office.
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Gary Ballweg is sheriff of Delta County.