HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Game Commission officials are reminding all hunters heading afield this fall to stay focused at all times and to hunt responsibly and defensively.
“Last year, Pennsylvania hunters recorded the safest year in the more than 90 years that the agency has been maintaining reports of hunting-related shooting incidents,” emphasized Keith Snyder, Game Commission Hunter-Trapper Education Division chief. “However, as there were 16 HRSIs reported during small game seasons, we must continue to strive to do better.
“Hunting is a serious situation and carrying or discharging a firearm should always command your undivided attention. That’s why all hunters must positively identify their target and what’s beyond it before squeezing the trigger of any sporting arm.”
In the early small game seasons, hunters should pay particular attention to the potential for in-the-line-of-fire incidents. These occur when a hunter discharges his or her firearm and the round strikes a person or property unintentionally before or after the target.
“Fall foliage can limit or cloud a hunter’s ability to judge accurately downrange,” Snyder said. “Vegetation also can impede a hunter’s ability to determine if his or her zone of fire is safe. This is usually a problem for small game parties hunting for grouse, quail or woodcock. Hunting party members should agree on their respective safe zones-of-fire prior to beginning their hunt, then adhere to those safe zones throughout the hunt.”
Squirrel hunters also need to positively identify their targets before shooting, particularly those hunting in areas where they share the woods with bowhunters, who could be in a tree-stand. Hunters who use a .22 caliber rifle for squirrels are encouraged to take ground-shots; pass on shots of squirrels in tree branches.