Friday, January 19, 2018 Elyria 31°
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Outdoors

With deer-gun season starting Monday, it's safety first, hunting second

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    A hunter keeps a muzzleloader in a safe position with the action open.

    BRAD ZAHAR / CHRONICLE

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    Bright orange gear helps hunters stay visible and safe.

    BRAD ZAHAR / CHRONICLE

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The Monday after Thanksgiving is a national holiday for many deer hunters. The opening day of gun season brings many to the woods, as this is their only week of hunting of the year.

Meanwhile, some archery hunters avoid this week like the plague.

I have personally, over the years, found myself less interested in the gun season. While I don’t have a problem with gun hunting, I feel, with the season ending in December, post-rut, my attention has shifted to other outdoor hobbies other than deer hunting by this time of the year.

So far this season in Lorain County, deer kill numbers are slightly below last year, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

As of the ODNR deer harvest update on Nov. 21, harvest numbers are about 200 deer below 2016.

These numbers include last weekend’s youth deer gun season (see results below) which provides an early season opportunity for kids to dust off the shotgun and get out. Plus, it’s always nice to see photos and hear about kids having the special weekend to go out and enjoy the thrill of hunting. For some, it is their first taste of whitetail hunting.

For those folks heading out Monday, be sure to exercise special caution and take the proper safety measures that not only allow for you to have a successful hunt, but a safe one, keeping you and other gun hunters out of harm’s way.

Here are a few basic safety tips:

  • Wear blaze orange. The number of people hunting multiplies this week. Standing out and letting others know where you are goes a long way in staying safe during the hunt.
  • Remember to treat your gun as if it’s loaded, at all times.
  • Keep your safety on and finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. This one sounds like common sense, but the trigger guard is called that for a reason. Until you are sure you can make the shot and what you’re shooting is a deer, don’t mess with the trigger. The safety being on is a no-brainer. That’s why it’s there.
  • Point the firearm in a safe direction, away from people.

Thinking and being aware of your surroundings will help, too. Legal shooting time is 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. Sunrise in Elyria on Monday is 7:31 a.m. with sunset at 5:01 p.m. Respect the legal things in addition to taking proper safety measures.

What is elementary in nature sometimes gets lost in the pursuit of a deer or some type of trophy. We’ve all seen unethical hunters, anglers and people who have shown a lack of respect for the sport. No trophy is worth putting safety, ego or others’ well-being on the back burner. Respecting property lines, others and being safe are the things to remember when heading out for gun season.

Not only show in town

To those not heading out to gun hunt, the steelhead push in the Lake Erie tributaries is heating up after the massive rain last weekend.

For winter lovers, any snowfall that leads to accumulation, could have those thinking snowshoeing or cross country skiing.

As always, feel free to send me some pictures at bzaharoutdoors@gmail.com.

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