SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Firearm Deer Season opens with the first weekend of firearm hunting on Nov. 17 to Nov. 19, and hunters in Illinois are reminded to make safety their top priority throughout all of Illinois’ busiest hunting seasons.
“This is prime time for hunting in Illinois, and the best way to enjoy an autumn or winter day in the field, in a blind, or in a tree stand is to make sure you’re hunting safely,” Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Director Wayne Rosenthal said in a news release.
The IDNR Office of Law Enforcement, which administers the Illinois Hunter Safety Education Program, reports there were 29 hunting incidents last year during all seasons, and 23 of those incidents involved hunters falling from elevated tree stands, or falling while climbing into or out of tree stands.
Hunters using tree stands are reminded to use a Fall Arrest System (FAS) safety harness. Nationally, more than 80 percent of reported tree stand incidents involve hunters who were not using a fall restraint system.
As additional precautions for hunting from elevated stands, hunters should check the harness, straps, ladder and other equipment to make sure they are in good working order.
Hunters are also advised to always be aware of weather conditions that could make stands and steps slippery, and to have a mobile phone within reach to call for help, if needed.
Hunters can review tree stand safety at www.huntercourse.com/treestandsafety.
Safety educators and IDNR Conservation Police also remind everyone hunting with a firearm to:
• Treat every firearm as if it is loaded, and never assume a firearm is unloaded;
• Always point a firearm in a safe direction;
• Be sure of the target, and make sure there are no other hunters, homes, buildings, vehicles or other animals beyond the target;
• Keep their finger out of the trigger guard and off the trigger until they are ready to shoot.