EDITORIAL: Deer season means special focus on safety | Editorial

The Times and the Democrat

The story is from over 20 years ago in Mankato, Minnesota. We have cited it before as a tragic example. The weather hasn’t made it any less relevant, particularly as deer hunting season begins in South Carolina.

Sadly, what happened could have been another in the series of tragedies that has surrounded hunting seasons in South Carolina over the years.

Here is the Associated Press account:

“John Leif remembers regaining consciousness in the woods after his 16-year-old son accidentally shot him in the head while they were squirrel hunting.

“‘Chris was lying next to me, he was so limp,’ said Leif, 50. ‘I grabbed him and hugged him and sobbed and cried. I put my head on his chest. I wanted to die.’

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“Investigators said Chris shot himself in the head in grief, believing he had killed his father.

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“‘I’m sure he thought he was dead,’ his father said. ‘It breaks my heart, the mental anguish he must have gone through.'”

“The father and son had gone to the family property about 100 miles southeast of Minneapolis to put the finishing touches on a new deer stand in preparation for the opening of deer season. They decided to go squirrel hunting.

“‘The last thing I remember is seeing a big gray squirrel up ahead,’ Leif said. ‘I ran up and said, ‘Chris, there’s one! Let’s go!” And the more I think about it now, he was probably aiming at it, getting ready to shoot, and I ran right in front of him… We were right next to each other. It was so fast.”

“After Leif regained consciousness, he tied a jacket around a tree as a landmark and started walking for help. He was disoriented, but managed to get into his truck and drive to a neighbor’s house.”

The athletes will be in effect from now until the end of the deer season on January 1, 2023. South Carolina continues to have the longest deer season in the country.

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Tragedy can happen. As harrowing as Minnesota’s history is, any hunting accident can leave someone hurt and grieving. And they happen in South Carolina. The worst year was 1994, when 57 people were injured and eight died.

Some safety reminders are in order:

• Make sure your firearm is unloaded when transporting it in your vehicle or walking to your booth. Keep the insurance on as an added measure.

• Leave the gun safety on until you are ready to shoot. (If you drop your weapon, security will offer you some protection.)

• It is advisable to wear a visible international orange hat, coat or vest while deer hunting. Even wildlife photographers and other nature enthusiasts should use common sense and opt to wear a hunter orange hat, coat, or vest.

• Don’t shoot in the direction of rustling bushes or rattling leaves. Shoot only when you see a deer within range. Make sure of your goal.

• When hunting with a club or group, remain at your post until a pre-arranged time. Do not lose your patience and wander, you may be mistaken for a deer.

• Remember, rifle bullets, buckshot and arrows travel long distances across a field or in the woods. Therefore, you must know the territory and know if there are homes, schools or businesses that could possibly be hit by munitions that miss their target.

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The next few weeks and months will be busy for hunters, who should be aware that there will be other outdoor enthusiasts sharing space. Use common sense in any situation. Please.