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Delayed harvest causes deer hunting safety concerns

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says standing corn is a safety concern this firearms deer hunting season.

"The cool summer and wet fall has delayed the corn harvest in many parts of the state, and that could create hunter safety issues during deer drives when the firearms deer season kicks off on November 7," said Captain Mike Hammer, DNR Enforcement Education Program coordinator.

Deer drives are when hunters walk through a field hoping to flush out deer.

"Standing crops can cause visibility problems among hunters, creating a safety issue when shooting at running deer," Hammer said, "and the excitement of the hunt can quickly cloud a hunter's judgment and perception, and make him or her momentarily forget about surroundings, even hunting partners, and many times the victim and shooter know one another since they're hunting together."

To ensure safety, deer hunters should establish hunting plans that define who will shoot and when during drives. Each hunting party member should have a predetermined zone of fire and always know where each member of his or her hunting party is.

Visibility between those stationary on deer drives and those driving deer is also an important safety consideration.

"Every hunter assumes an incredible responsibility when he or she picks up a sporting firearm and heads afield," Hammer emphasized. "It's up to the hunter to make sound shooting decisions. If there's even the slightest hint that something isn't right, please don't shoot. There will be other opportunities. Wait for the next chance and take pride in knowing that you made the right choice."

Hammer reminds hunters to hunt defensively, and to assume every movement or sound that they hear is another hunter until they can prove unquestionably that it isn't. Remember to scan the area behind the target, positively identify your target and be absolutely sure it is a legal deer before taking the safety off and pulling the trigger.

In addition, he reminds all hunters that wearing blaze orange clothing is required in areas open to deer hunting with firearms. He said every accident is preventable and following a few basic rules is all it takes to have a safe and successful hunt.

"Know where your partners and others are at, know your zones of fire, make your position known to other hunters, be sure of your target and what's beyond it, and wear blaze orange clothing," Hammer said. "It's not only a common sense thing to do, it's the law."