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Every year around 900 hunters are killed or injured in a hunting accident. Dick Cheney, our Vice President just shot his friend of thirty years from Texas in the neck and face. Cheney is an experienced hunter and proved that a hunter must be constantly on the lookout to prevent accidents. Cheney suffered great grief over the accident, just as you would if you shot a friend or even a stranger.
Many Americans know about guns and their dangers. In the west, boys have guns at a very young age. Some girls also learn about weapons. They know guns are dangerous.
Many learn about weapons in the military. They learn rifle range rules so they don’t shoot the target screens and each other. Most states have gun laws that require youth to take gun classes before they are allowed to hunt. This is a good idea.
There is a good set of firearms safety rules at http://www.uoregon.edu/~joe/firearms-safety.html. READ THEM!
Here are my rules: Taylor Jones’ Rules of Hunting
1. Keep your gun in good condition. This means cleaning and oiling it after use and checking it occasionally while it’s in storage. Remove any excess oil when you decide to use the firearm.
2. Store your firearm in a locked cabinet. Since you just cleared it, it shouldn’t load. Check to see if it is loaded. If it is, unload it.
3. Make sure the lock on your gun cabinet is of high quality and cannot be picked or opened. Keep the key on your key ring in your possession or in a safe place where others cannot find it. Remember that kids are very smart and if they want to get into your gun cabinet, they will if you don’t monitor their activities.
4. When you retrieve your gun from the gun cabinet, what is the first thing you do? You check if it is loaded. Someone could get into your gun cabinet, load the gun, and then replace it. Trust me, it happens. When I was a kid, I did.
5. Smell your gun when you first take it out of the gun locker. You will be able to tell if it has been fired. If you suspect it has been fired, look down the barrel as soon as you realize the gun is not loaded. You will now be able to tell if it has been fired by the particles left behind by the bullet as it passed through the barrel. If the gun has been fired, find out who fired it and take appropriate action.
6. You should have a holster for your gun. Place the empty rifle or shotgun or pistol in its holster when not hunting or aiming. Always keep the gun in a holster in your car. Some states require it.
7. When you get to the hunting scene, pay attention to what others are doing. If they swing the barrel of their rifle or handgun at you, warn them about it. Tell them what the safe hunting rules are then and there.
8. Never hunt with a klutz who doesn’t know how to handle a firearm. Never hunt with someone who drinks a drop of alcohol. If you see a problem, tell them you think it would be best to form two hunting parties and separate yourself from them. An alternative is to decide not to chase and return to the car. I suggest you only hunt with those you know and trust.
9. Carefully remove your gun from its holster. Do not load the gun until you are actually hunting. When you load the gun, you may want to keep the chamber empty until you know you are going to fire.
10. Follow your state’s dress codes. This bright orange hat and vest can keep you from getting stuck in your shoe.
11. Be in constant contact with everyone in your hunting party. If gabbing doesn’t interfere with your hunting strategy, talk to each other all the time. If you are not talking, maintain eye contact. If someone disappears from your sight, stop hunting then and there until you make contact with that person again. This is the most important rule of hunting in my opinion.
12. Constantly monitor your safe field of fire. Never go outside this scope. Dick Cheney stepped out of the safe range. He had lost contact with his hunting partner but continued to hunt. That was a big mistake on his part.
13. Don’t run with your firearm loaded. There is rarely a need to run while hunting. If you must run, put down your weapon or at least unload it.
14. Remember that your dogs are your hunting companions. Make sure your safe fire field doesn’t have your dogs running through it. I was stalking pheasants in Iowa years ago when a line of fox hunters appeared on the horizon in their white snowsuits. A set of foxes shot out in front of them. Their score was two dogs and no foxes. My friend shot one of the foxes and sold it to them. The dogs were expensive fox hounds and they were dead.
15. Uneven ground can cause accidents. You could trip and fall and your firearm could go off in any direction. If you are transporting game, take extra precautions with our firearm.
16. The bottom line is this: you have to be eternally alert to be a good hunter. A good hunter is a safe hunter.
A few years ago, a man in our town in Arizona got into an argument with his wife while deer hunting. He grabbed the barrel of his rifle and slammed it into the side of his pickup. The rifle discharged severing his femoral artery.
Because the evacuation helicopter had a mechanical problem, it turned around and returned to its base. The dispatcher did not request another helicopter but two late ones.
I visited the man in the hospital with the bishop of our church. He was in a coma and dying. He left behind his wife and two sons.
If the man had been taken to our small town hospital, the doctors could have stopped the bleeding and saved his life. The helicopter no show was the main problem.
When you’re out hunting, think about where you’ll find medical care if you need it. What actions would you take in an emergency?
Here’s one last rule: Never handle a firearm when angry.
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