Hunters Urged to Keep Safety in Mind

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With the busy fall hunting seasons underway in Illinois, hunters are reminded to keep safety in mind.

“One of the best ways to ensure that we have an enjoyable experience while hunting is to be safe while in the field, in the tree stand, in the goose pit or in the duck blind,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Director Joel Brunsvold. “All of us who enjoy hunting in Illinois want it to be a good experience. Hunters of all ages and all levels of expertise need to focus on safety to make sure they and their hunting partners avoid hunting-related accidents.”

The IDNR Safety Education office reports there were 33 hunting related accidents in Illinois in 2004. None of the accidents resulted in death. The discharge of a firearm was involved in 15 of the accidents. In 15 of the other 18 accidents reported last year, hunters were injured by either falling out of a tree stand or climbing a tree to get into or out of a tree stand.

“Tree stand accidents are one of the most frequent types of accidents year in and year out and most of them are preventable,” Brunsvold said.

Safety experts remind hunters they should always use a safety belt or safety harness when installing or using a tree stand. Hunters should also make sure their tree stand is installed properly, is sturdy and is only used by hunters who are secured by a belt or harness.

The 33 hunting-related accidents last year compares with 15 accidents and one fatality reported in Illinois in 2003 and 22 accidents and no fatalities reported in 2002. The IDNR issued more than 300,000 hunting licenses last year.

Illinois law requires that anyone born on or after January 1, 1980 must successfully complete a free hunter safety education course before an Illinois hunting license can be issued. The courses are coordinated by the IDNR and are taught by volunteer safety instructors. The courses include instruction on hunting regulations, hunter ethics and responsibility, archery, firearms, ammunition, first aid, wildlife identification and conservation. A minimum of 10 hours of instruction is involved. Those who complete the course and pass the final exam receive a certificate of competency. Last year, more than 16,000 students completed the course. For more information on hunter safety education courses and the complete schedule of IDNR safety education programs, call 1-800/832-2599 or check the IDNR web site at