Georgia Hunters Urged Caution During Muzzleloading Season

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The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) encourages hunters to be alert and aware as they prepare for the upcoming primitive weapons deer hunting season, Oct. 14-20, 2006. Muzzleloading, or blackpowder, guns have special requirements that call for critical attention to their specific safety precautions. While misuse of tree stands continues to the leading cause of hunting-related incidents, all firearms should be handled with the utmost respect.

"Hunters that use muzzleloading guns during primitive weapons season should know that they have specific safety precautions," says State Hunter Safety Coordinator Capt. James Bell. "The user must be completely familiar with all safety requirements regarding the handling, loading and firing of the gun before using it to hunt."

Anyone who shoots a shotgun, rifle or muzzleloader, should know basic firearms safety, such as keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, never relying solely on a gun's "safety", handling every gun as if it were loaded and avoiding all use of alcohol and/or drugs before and during the use of a firearm.

In addition to these, there are other safety measures that are unique to muzzleloaders, including:

  • Never smoke around or while using a muzzleloader.
  • Use a small intermediate device, such as a measure to pour powder into a barrel.
  • Never place yourself in front of the muzzle at any time.
  • Keep flask and powder containers away from flames, sparks and shooting areas to prevent an accidental explosion.
  • Use only powders that are specific to each particular muzzleloader and recommended by that firearms manufacturer. To do otherwise can cause damage to the firearm and may cause serious injury, and even death, to the shooter and/or spectators.
  • Place percussion cap on nipple only when ready to shoot.
  • The gun is considered to be safely unloaded only when the bullet, powder and percussion cap are removed from the gun. If using a flintlock muzzleloader, the bullet and powder should be removed and the flash pan should be un-primed.
  • Be sure to use only the recommended loading materials, the correct powder charge, the right diameter and weight bullet and the correct lead material.
  • Never use plastic (poly) patches. These are different from sabots.
  • Treat a misfire as though your gun could fire at any moment. Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
  • Make sure the gun is completely unloaded before attempting to clean it.
  • Make sure the projectile is firmly seated on the powder before capping and firing.
  • Never blow down the barrel of a muzzleloader to clear or extinguish sparks.

For more information on muzzleloader and general firearms safety, contact the nearest WRD Law Enforcement Office or call (770) 761-3010.