CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Safety is a top priority for deer hunters this season after the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources reported several injuries across the state last year.
Jimmy Mootz, with the Department of Wildlife Resources, said there were 14 reported firearm injuries last year. Three of them were self inflicted, but none were deadly. There were also 14 tree stand injuries and one tree stand death last season.
Christopher Wells, the owner of Trigger Happy Firearms, said he usually hunts with his family but he always takes safety precautions.
“If you don’t know what’s behind what you’re shooting at, don’t shoot. Because if you miss there’s nothing there to stop it.”
Deer hunting season begins Saturday, but Wells said hitting a target isn’t the only challenge for hunters this year.
“Different people are coming in looking for the same stuff, and apparently they can’t find it anywhere. A lot of people are having to find new guns to hunt with,” he said.
He said the ammunition shortage is affecting everyone, even large and small businesses.
“Hurting the shops, hurting the customers, everything. Driving the prices through the roof,” he said. “Some of the prices, folks don’t like them but it’s not our fault. We’ve got to pay what we pay to get them and we still got to make a living unfortunately.”
Mootz said he has seven safety tips he reminds first-time and experienced hunters:
1. Always wear blaze orange (a vest or hat.)
2. Treat every firearm like it’s loaded at all times.
3. Always point a muzzle in a safe direction.
4. Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
5. Always be sure of your target and know what’s beyond it.
6. Coordinate with other hunters in the field by setting a designated meeting place, sign or sound.
7. When using tree stands, always connect to a lifeline before leaving the ground.
Mootz said conservation police will be working untold hours this season to enforce rules and safety practices.
Wells said November 26-December 23, his business will hold a Christmas Raffle (Waffle.) When you make a $20 donation, you receive a ticket and the proceeds go towards gifts for first responders.