Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) reminds hunters to make safety their first priority as they head to the field for the state’s firearm deer, upland game, waterfowl and other busy hunting seasons.

“We want hunters to enjoy all the opportunities available here in Illinois, with hopes for a safe and successful hunting season this fall,” Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Colleen Callahan said in a news release. “While we enjoy and celebrate Illinois’ hunting heritage, we want everyone — from experienced, veteran hunters to those who may be new to hunting — to always think safety first.”

The IDNR Office of Law Enforcement, which administers the state’s Hunter Safety Education Program, has investigated six hunting incidents so far in 2019, three of which involved hunters falling from elevated tree stands or falling while climbing into or out of tree stands.

In 2018, 19 hunting incidents were reported in all hunting seasons in Illinois. Among the hunting incidents reported last year, 14 involved tree stands. 

“Hunters should use a Fall Arrest System (FAS) safety harness, no matter the type of elevated stand they are using,” said Jerry Costello, director of the IDNR Office of Law Enforcement. “Statistics show that in most of the mishaps involving elevated stands, hunters were not using a fall restraint system.” 

Hunters can review tree-stand safety at http://www.huntercourse.com/treestandsafety/

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Safety educators and IDNR Conservation Police also remind hunters with firearms to:

  • Treat every firearm as if it is loaded, and never assume a firearm is unloaded
  • Always point a firearm in a safe direction
  • Be sure of the target, and make sure there are no other hunters, homes, buildings, vehicles or other animals beyond the target
  • Keep fingers out of the trigger guard and off the trigger until they are ready to shoot.

Other safety considerations include ensuring heating sources are properly ventilated in hunting cabins and boats, wearing appropriate, high visibility clothing while hunting and being familiar with the area being hunted.

The busiest hunting season in Illinois — the seven-day firearm deer season — begins Friday through Sunday, Nov. 22-24, and will conclude Thursday through Sunday, Dec. 5-8.

The Illinois Archery Deer Season opened Oct. 1 and continues through Jan. 19, 2020. Archery deer season is closed during the firearm deer weekends except in those counties where firearm deer hunting is not permitted.

For more information on Illinois deer, waterfowl, upland game, fur-bearer and other hunting seasons this fall and winter, check the "Illinois Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations" at https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/Documents/HuntTrapDigest.pdf

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