East Tennessee Outdoors: Gun Safety – Know Your Target

Published 12:05 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2020

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I have been around guns all of my life. I got my first BB rifle at the tender age of six, and my first .22 L.R. at the age of nine.

In the last 45-50 years, I have owned almost any rifle, pistol, or revolver produced. I paid part of my way through college by owning and running a gun shop and being a Federally licensed gun dealer.
Let’s just say that guns have been a big part of my life since I was old enough to shoot a rabbit.

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During that time, I have never committed a mass murder nor have I shot anyone while I was hunting. I have never discharged my weapon in a dangerous manner, and I have never threatened anyone with my gun.

I can look back and say these things because I was taught by my father and older men in my life proper gun safety.

I grew up in a time that did not require safety courses to buy a hunting license, but I still have been careful with a weapon and operated it in a safe, efficient manner.

That is how it should be. Older adults should set a good example when it comes to gun safety, but unfortunately accidents, for whatever reason, still happen.

With that said, I came across a news release from the TWRA about a gun accident this past weekend.

The first thing that came to my mind was that some hunter was drinking and just started firing his weapon, but that was not the case this time.

According to a news release from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, an off-duty TWRA officer was involved in a turkey hunting accident on the North Cumberland WMA in Campbell County.

Sunday morning, the officer accidentally shot two other hunters while turkey hunting near Norma Road.

One hunter was transported and the other drove to the University of Tennessee Medical Center for examination.

Both hunters have been released from the hospital and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation continues to investigate the incident.

I was shocked. A game warden, of all people, had mistakenly shot two other people while hunting.

Now, we do not know the details of the incident, but I think we can assume there was negligence on the game warden’s side.

This made the statewide news, but unfortunately, this is something that is not uncommon during hunting season and some of these are fatal.

Several years ago, an angler was fishing a small stream in Unicoi County when he was shot and killed by a deer hunter during the black powder deer hunting season.

The hunter said he heard the splashing and thought the angler was a deer.

On November 10, 2019, a Morgan County, Tennessee hunter was shot and killed while hunting. The incident was ruled an accident and no charges were placed.

Also, several years ago in Maryland, a lady was working in her flower garden during deer season. She was wearing a pair of white garden gloves when she was shot by a deer hunter.

He said he saw the white and thought it was the white tail of a deer.

All of these hunting accidents could have been easily prevented. Common gun safety is the best way to avoid all of the hunting accidents that happen each year.

These can be summed up into four essential rules.

Always treat your weapon as loaded. Keep the safety on until you are ready to shoot, know your target, and know what is beyond the target.

If you remember these four simple rules, you can avoid 99% of hunting accidents.

I love to hunt, but no game animal is worth a human death. If you have to question the shot, don’t shoot.

The life you save may be mine!