There are two days that many in Michigan would argue are better than Christmas: the opening day for Tigers baseball, and hunting season. While Tigers’ opening day calls for little weather planning, hunting season requires more in depth preparation. Use these tips to make sure you have everything packed, checked, updated and ready to go!
MINORS & HUNTING SAFETY
Know the underage hunting laws of the area. Michigan requires hunters over the age of 10 to attend a hunter safety course to obtain a hunter safety certificate. Hunter safety courses are also required if you were born after January 1, 1960 and you want to purchase any Michigan hunting license, or if you are planning an out-of-state hunting trip. The mentor program through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources offers experienced hunters the opportunity to hunt with children under the age of 10 for a discounted rate. Mentees have the option to hunt with mentors over the age of 21 to help then learn the rules with hands on application.
The first rule of gun safety is to treat every firearm as if it is loaded. When a gun is pointed Whether a gun has been used since the prior hunting season, or has sat in a case waiting, it’s important to check and clean the piece. Verifying all working parts are in order ensures the safety of both the hunter and those in the party. Check the location to ensure you are allowed to use your weapon of choice. When you are traveling to a hunting location always double check the transportation laws for weapons.
When climbing in and out of a blind or stand, always make sure to carry your weapon properly. Any time a weapon is pointed in a direction, assume the it is loaded and can discharge at any time. Always keep the trigger finger outside the trigger guard until the moment of engagement to avoid accidental discharge when using a firearm. It is important to know and understand all state and local firearm laws.
OUT IN THE FIELD
Many hunting accidents don’t involve weapons or vehicles, but falls from stands. If an elevated platform is part of your hunting strategy, make sure that safety straps and harnesses are secure and in good working order. When climbing up or down a stand, secure your weapon and any loose articles of clothing to avoid accidents. Hunters are required to immediately tag animals that have fallen. If the animal is injured on public land but falls on private property, hunters are not allowed to trespass without the landowners permission. Hunters are not allowed to discharge their weapons within 450 feet, or 50 yards, of a dwelling.
It’s important to see and been seen during the hunting season, so all hunters must wear some form of Hunter’s Orange during the established daylight shooting hours from August 15 through April 30; such as a cap, hat, vest, jacket, rain gear or camouflage that is 50% hunter orange. These garments need to be the hunter’s outermost garment(s) and be visible from all sides. While there are some exceptions, it is safer to wear more orange than not enough!
If you aren’t hunter but still want to enjoy the great outdoors this season, be aware of surrounding hunting areas and make sure to wear orange (or something bright) to make your presence known.
Whether hunting locally or traveling to your favorite spot, you need to purchase specific hunting licenses for both the location and season you are going out in. Be sure to check the hunting-hour time zones for legal hunting times. Hunters staying local, need to be aware that Oakland County is in the Limited Firearm Deer Zone, which determines what type of firearm is allowed in which season. Specifically in the limited firearm deer zone, all hunters afield from Nov. 15-30, and all deer hunters in this zone during other deer seasons, can use only shotguns, certain firearms, and certain handguns for deer hunting.
A lot of hunters use an ORV to get to their favorite hunting site, and some hunters may even hunt from a standing ORV with a special permit. But before taking it out into the field, it is important to make sure the vehicle is in good working order. Check the brakes, oil, engine, gas level, and fluids before use. Whether it’s taken to a service dealer, or done at home, make sure you won’t be left stranded in the woods.
If you plan to keep your ORV on public land, all licensing and registration must be up-to-date for use. Children ages 12-15 are required to carry safety certificates and must be under direct supervision of an adult to drive. Hunters also need to familiarize themselves with other pertinent ORV rules and regulations in hunting season, such as the transportation of weapons and time restrictions for operating an ORV on public hunting lands during firearm deer season. Learn more about the use in the Michigan Department of Natural Resources ORV Handbook.
Lastly, but not least important, tell someone when you will be hunting, if you know your exact location, when you’ll arrive, and how long you plan to be at that location. If something unfortunate does happen, having a place to start can help law enforcement with their search and give them a better chance of finding you and your party.