With hunting season fast approaching for Manitoulin Island from Monday, November 18 to Sunday, November 24, 2013 and the with the expected number of 5,000 to 7,000 hunters on the Island, the Ontario Provincial Police urge hunters to plan ahead and keep safety in the forefront during hunting season.
Every year, people get lost while hunting and sometimes these incidents end tragically. Each year the Ontario Provincial Police in the North East Region conduct many searches for lost people—most of them hunters in the rugged wilderness.
“People who engage in activities in the bush should prepare for the potential of becoming lost,” advises Staff Sergeant Scott Taylor, a North East Region search and rescue specialist. Don’t think it can’t happen to you and ensure that you take all equipment along even for a short trip. Should you become lost, it is important that you remain calm and most important…stay put!
Before heading out on your hunting trip this year follow these safety tips:• Travel plans: Always tell someone where you are going and include the date, time of departure, the number of people in your party, direction of travel and an estimated time of return. • Equipment: Make sure all your firearms, compasses, global positioning devises (GPS), communication devices and anything else you bring relevant to your hunt is in good working order and that you know how to use them. • Clothing: Wear appropriate clothing and footwear for the terrain and weather conditions you expect to encounter. Always wear your Hunter Orange. It is required by law and will maximize your safety while out in the bush. • First Aid/Medication: Always have a first aid kit on hand. If you require prescription medication, carry at least one week’s supply on you while you are out in the bush in case you get lost. While you are in the bush consider the following: • Fatigue: Go slow. Heavy exertion burns up extra calories and makes you sweat heavily, wasting vital body fluids, dehydrating you. Fatigue, dehydration and damp clothing increase your chances of succumbing to hypothermia. • Hypothermia: Hypothermia means the body loses heat faster than it can produce it. Hypothermia occurs when a person is exposed to rain, wind and cold without the proper, dry clothing and/or shelter. Your most important task if you become lost is to stay warm and dry. Build a shelter and fire if you can. • Matches: Always carry matches in a waterproof container. • Water: Dehydration will increase your susceptibility to fatigue and hypothermia. Remember, you can survive weeks without food but only a matter of days without water.
If you get lost:• Don’t Panic: Fear is your worst enemy. It is impossible to think logically if you panic. • Stay where you are: Don’t try and walk to safety unless you have the skills and equipment necessary to survive. Staying where you are will increase your chances of being located quicker. • Fire: Making a fire is one of your best survival tools. With fire you can keep warm, dry your clothes and signal for help. • Shelter: If necessary, utilize natural formations (caves or fallen trees). Other materials found in the woods, like cedar or spruce boughs can be used to construct a temporary shelter to get you out of the elements.
The following are universal distress signals: three gun shots, three blasts of a whistle or three fires.
One last reminder: You may only hunt from a half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset. If you are in an area usually inhabited by wildlife during the period from a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise, you must unload and encase your firearms and make sure they are not readily accessible.
OPP investigating eight hunting related shootings
Hunting season is open in many parts of the province, with Manitoulin’s hunting season starting this November 18, and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is reminding hunters of their obligation to follow safe firearm practices. Over the past week OPP officers have responded to eight hunting related shootings across southern Ontario. All of these shootings were preventable and resulted from basic firearms safety rules not being followed.
“Although the majority of hunters are responsible and follow firearm safety regulations, it is important for all hunters to constantly be diligent regarding practicing the firearm safety rules,” said Superintendent Chris Wyatt, Bureau Commander, Chief Firearms Office. “Hunters must exercise safety when handling their weapons and should always take into account the safety of others.”
While hunting, firearms must always be pointed in a safe direction with the safety “on” until you are ready to safely shoot the weapon. Your finger should never be on the trigger until you have identified your target, sighted it and you are ready to shoot. Anyone who discharges a firearm is responsible for the round coming from their weapon and they must be sure of their target.
Always be aware that you are sharing the forest with other hunters, as well as hikers, riders and bird watchers. Also, hunters are required to wear bright orange clothing that meet regulations which readily identifies themselves to others that might be hunting in the same area.
When not in use, firearms must be unloaded and safely secured (locked with a trigger lock) and ammunition must also be safely secured and stored.
For more hunting safety tips visit the Ministry of Natural Resources website.
Please do your part, be responsible and remember to always hunt safely. Only you can practice firearm safety.