Encouraged by beautiful autumn weather, more than 180,000 hunters are expected to pour into Utah hills this weekend for the state's biggest sporting event, the annual deer hunt.
Nearly every year, hunters get lost, injured, and even killed. Yet the simple rules of safety and simple courtesy - as well as some common sense - can prevent most of the difficulties associated with the deer hunt.There are always a few hunters who are stricken with heart attacks. People who sit at a desk all year shouldn't suddenly push themselves beyond their physical endurance in rugged country. Take it easy. No deer is worth dying for.
Each hunting season, some people are shot. In many instances, it's because a rifle is used as a crutch, or dragged through a fence, or carried improperly, or dropped, or shoved carelessly into a pickup truck, or an "empty" gun still has a bullet in it.
On occasion, foolish hunters endanger others by firing at a deer without making sure other hunters are in the clear. Or some fire at sounds in heavy brush. Hunters must always be sure they can clearly see what they are shooting at. Hunters should be properly dressed, including wearing the bright colors recommended for the hunt.
Care should be taken with campfires and smoking. Those hills are dry after a parched summer and fall.
Permission should be sought to hunt on private land; where property is posted against hunting, those restrictions should be respected. Hunters should not use livestock, signs, fences, barns, or other buildings for target practice. Fortunately, most hunters do the right thing, but there are always a few who give hunting a bad name.
And drinking and hunting do not mix. Alcohol and loaded guns are a deadly combination. A sober hunter is a safe hunter.
A successful hunt is not one where a lot of deer are bagged. A successful deer hunt is one where the hunters come back alive and well.