Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

November 16, 2012

Safety first during firearm season

Jackson Adams
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — Firearm deer season opens this weekend with a bang as hunters from around the area can finally get back into their favorite tree stand.

    “It’s always a big weekend,” said Ken Pierson, a Natural Resource Specialist Ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Shelbyville. “We’ll probably be close to filled up.”

    The firearm deer season opens Friday and runs through Sunday with the second season from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2. Legal hunting hours for the season are a half hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset.

    Hunters here said the start of the season is also the start of another year of making and reflecting on old memories of the outdoors.

    “It means catching up on memories and good times with friends and family,” said Eric Walker of Effingham. “There’s reminiscing about seasons gone by and remembering memories of past hunting experiences. It’s always at the start of winter and you can look back at the year. It’s a time of reflection, sitting in the woods with just you, God and nature.”

    Walker said he’s already excited for the days when he can take his four-month-old son, Jeremiah, on his first hunt.

    “I’m going to teach my son to hunt,” he said. “I’ll give him his first squirrel rifle and his first shotgun and I look forward to spending time with him out there.”

    Before hunters can line up the perfect shot, Pierson said the first priority should be safety.

    “Safety is the biggest thing,” he said. “Make sure to wear your blaze orange and make sure you’re strapped into the deer blind. That’s how most injuries happen. People either fall asleep when they’re up there and then just fall out without their strap or they shoot a deer and get all excited and just drop right off. They’ve got all that adrenaline, thinking they hit something and can just drop right out. Also, check your parts. Even on new stands, parts can fail and if you’re not strapped in, you can fall.”

    Phil Manhart, also a ranger with the Army Corps of Engineers, said people using the area for hiking or bicycling should take note of their surroundings and try to stay safe.

    “If you’re going to be hiking or biking, we’ve put some signs up saying that there are people hunting in the area,” he said. “We’ve had people try to go through there. Just stay safe. If you’re going to be walking around, wear orange. It’s not required, but it’s for your safety.”

    For those who’ve already safely bagged their prize, the Teutopolis Meat Locker serves as a place for butchering, as well as an opportunity to give something back.

    “We do accept deer from sportsmen for charity,” said Krystal Lewis, an employee at the meat locker. “We’ve done it for a couple of years and there was quite a bit of it last year. We butcher it and shape it into patties and donate it to Catholic Charities. It’s pretty nice. It’s a good thing.”