Missouri's firearms deer season begins tomorrow, and the Johnson County Sheriff's Office joins with the Missouri Department of Conservation in urging all area hunters, landowners, and even rural residents to keep safety in mind through the hunting season.
According to the National Safety Council, hunting is a safe activity. In fact, hunting results in fewer injuries per 100,000 participants than do many other sports. However, as with any activity, you must always use good judgment and take responsibility for your actions. Deer hunters should follow safe, ethical hunting practices. These include:
Be sure of your target and beyond before you shoot.
Make sure your equipment is in good working condition and your firearm is properly sighted in.
If you hunt from a tree stand, always wear a safety harness. Serious accidents occur annually when hunters fall from tree stands.
If you hunt on private land, be sure to obtain permission from the landowner and respect his or her property as if it were your own. Scout the area you plan to hunt so you know where the boundaries, houses, roads, fences and livestock are located on the property.
If you do not kill your deer instantly, make every effort to find the wounded animal. Permission is required to enter private land.
Pick up all litter, including spent ammunition. Leaving an area better than the way you found it is a sign of thanks for the privilege of hunting.
Report observed violations of the law to a conservation agent or the Sheriff's Office as soon as possible.
If you are involved in a firearms-related accident, the law requires that you identify yourself and render assistance; failure to do so is a Class A misdemeanor.
Rural landowners and residents are reminded that it's always a good practice to wear hunter orange while being outside during the firearms season.
The Share the Harvest program in Missouriprovides a way for deer hunters to donate venison to the needy. This program is administered by the Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Missouri Department of Conservation. During the 2011 deer seasons, 6,191 hunters donated 317,882 pounds of venison.
Donating is easy. Hunters who want to participate simply take their deer to an approved meat processor and let the processor know how much venison they wish to donate. The processor will package the meat, which will be picked up by the local sponsoring organization and taken to a participating charitable agency for distribution.
We also remind area residents of the Operation Game Thief Program to help catch wildlife violators. Each year conservation agents spend time tracking down poachers who disregard regulations protecting wildlife. Here are some of the illegal activities that agents dealt with last year:
hunting from the road
disposing of carcasses and other body parts in streams, rivers, ponds and lakes
harvesting a deer or turkey and putting someone else’s transportation tag on it
using a spotlight to harvest deer
Rewards are available for information leading to the arrest of game-law violators. Information can be provided anonymously by dialing the toll-free hotline number at 1-900-392-1111. All information is kept in strict confidence.