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Make this firearm deer season a safe season

Nov. 15 marked the first day of Michigan’s firearm deer hunting season, which runs through Nov. 30.

It was expected more than 550,000 deer hunters would head into the fields and woods to try their luck, and maybe more importantly, their skill to bring home some venison.

According to a recent study released by the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, hunting and fishing generate about $11.2 billion annually in the state. It’s estimated that hunters contribute $8.9 billion — about 80% — of that amount.

There’s also the benefits of giving people a way to recreate outdoors while helping to keep deer numbers in check.

It’s fun to hunt deer, but even when they’re not in the field, hunters enjoy their time spent at their deer camps.

However, since the pastime involves firearms, safety is paramount.

F/Lt. Jason Wicklund, of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division, said in a news release that most violations that conservation officers encounter are simple mistakes people make when they get caught up in the excitement of the hunt.

“We want people to be safe, so they have a good story to tell friends and family about their successful hunt,” Wicklund said.

The DNR listed 10 best practices hunters can follow to make their hunt a safe one.

– Properly tag your deer.

– Know your firearm and how it functions.

– Know your target and what’s beyond it.

– Respect landowner rights.

– Share public land.

– Leave the land better than you found it.

– Wear hunter orange.

– Know and follow baiting regulations.

– Hunt in season during legal hours.

– Be respectful to other hunters.

These practices include respecting posted trespassing signs, not leaving garbage, researching and scouting land they plan to hunt before the trip, and hunting game no earlier than 30 minutes before sunrise or no later than 30 minutes after sunset.

Regarding baiting, in approved Upper Peninsula baiting areas, 2 gallons of bait can be spread in an area that measures 10 feet by 10 feet. On commercial forest land, bait must be brought in each night unless the landowner has given permission. Hunters are asked to use bait sparingly to help curb the spread of deer diseases such as bovine tuberculosis and chronic wasting disease.

With COVID-19 still a problem, the DNR reminds hunters that if they’re staying at a camp with people outside their households and aren’t vaccinated, they should wear a mask when indoors or if they can’t be 6 feet apart, and to sleep in separate rooms, tents or trailers if possible.

We want hunters to be successful and have fun, but more importantly, we want them to come back to their homes safely.

— The Mining Journal, Marquette

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