Home from the Hunt, a statewide safety campaign, encourages everyone to enjoy their time outdoors in North Carolina, by being prepared and taking the proper precautions, especially with firearms. North Carolina requires all first time hunting license buyers to have first completed a hunting education course. More than a gun safety class, hunter education courses include instruction in hunter ethics and responsibility, conservation and game management, wildlife identification, survival and first aid, and specialty hunting.
Hunting Educators advise that safety directly pertains to how you handle firearms of any type: Treat each firearm with the respect due a loaded gun; Point a firearm in a safe direction at all times; Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot; Follow manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and proper storage. There is an old saw that more people are killed by unloaded guns that loaded ones. Never assume a firearm is unloaded. By following these basic rules you will never had a gun accident that causes injury or death.
In the off-season, it is important for hunters to maintain firearm proficiency. Take this time to build marksmanship skills. “Firearms safety is exercising caution and using your head,” according to the Wildlife Resources Commission. “You can’t be too careful. Always maintain muzzle control. Follow manufacturer instructions, obey regulations and put into practice what you’ve learned in hunter education, no matter what type of firearm or archery equipment you’re using.”
It is also important to remember these four principles with turkey season just around the corner. Every year, somewhere in the U.S. a turkey hunter is killed by a blast from another hunter. This is particularly true on public land. We are all dressed in camouflage with no hunter orange showing. By only pointing a gun at an identified target and THEN putting your finger on the trigger will you avoid this tragic accident.
Well, the regular hunting season is over and except for the fast approaching turkey season it is time to turn thoughts to fishing. And in the mountains that means trout. Hatchery Supported waters are closed in the month of March as WRC staff stock trout for the Hatchery Supported opening day on April 4. However, Delayed Harvest waters are open and from what I’ve heard they’ve had a pretty good growing season at the hatcheries and have put some pretty good sized trout in Delayed Harvest streams.
Delayed Harvest waters are a great way to sharpen your skills in preparation for the April 4th opening of the Hatchery Supported waters. Due to the density of trout stocked in these streams, you can spend one to two hours of fishing and have all the fun you can handle. There are just a few important things to remember: all trout must be released, no natural baits are allowed, and you must use a single hook artificial lure.
With Turkey season around the corner, talking about gun safety reminds me that there are a limited number of Hunter Safety Classes being conducted in the next month. This is a great time to start looking for a Hunter’s Education class to attend. The WRC does not do many classes this time of year, but in the context of the Home from the Hunt program it is a good time to get it done. The next two in our area both start on March 10th, one at Haywood Community College and the other at Pisgah Wildlife Center in Brevard. Your last remaining opportunity before turkey season starts March 18th at the Madison County Extension Office in Marshall. Register online at the WRC website, www.ncwildlife.org. Click on the Hunting tab at the top and Hunter Education in middle of the page.