Potential for Safety Issues on Wisconsin Game Farms

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Hunting at Wisconsin's licensed game farms and shooting preserves is getting more popular, increasing the potential for shooting incidents that has the state's hunter education administrator reminding all about safe firearm practices.

"When hunting with firearms, safety should always be first and foremost – no matter where you are hunting," said Tim Lawhern, conservation warden and hunting safety administrator with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Lawhern says the social situations on licensed game farms or preserves, where people pay a fee to hunt and may hunt at any time of the year without a Wisconsin hunting license, may unintentionally foster lax attitudes about safety.

"When pheasant hunting, one of the things that happens is hunters know there are birds on the ground and they are eager to get them. That's why people like to go to game farms. Hunters often bring along friends and, in some cases, bring along novice hunters," he said. "Ensuring that hunting partners are practicing the four basic rules of firearm safety is just as important at game farms and preserves as anywhere."

The rules are:

  • * Treat your firearm as if it is loaded – even if you know it is not.
  • * Always point the muzzle in a safe direction. "Pay special attention to both the older and younger hunters," Lawhern said. "The older hunters may become lax due to familiarity and the younger hunters have not had a lot of experience.
  • * Be certain of your target and what is beyond it."In the case of pheasant hunting, it is what is beyond it that can get a hunter into a bad situation," he said. "Always know where your hunting buddies are and don't shoot in their direction. Period."
  • * Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot. "There will be plenty of time to get your finger inside the trigger guard when it is time to shoot," he said. "Keep your firearm's safety engaged in the on-safe position until you are ready to shoot."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tim Lawhern, DNR Hunter Education Administrator – (608) 266-1317