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MONDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2007
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Safety always pays off for hunters in Alabama

I preach it and practice it. Whether you are hunting, fishing, hiking or participating in any outdoor event, it pays to put safety as your top priority.

Clearly, many outdoorsmen have done so.

For the first time since records began in 1973, the state’s Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division reports that there were no firearm or tree-stand related fatal incidents this past deer season, which ended Jan. 31.

Alabama’s hunting incident rate has decreased significantly since the mandatory hunter education program was implemented in 1993. However, WFF cautions hunters to continue using safe hunting practices during the remaining game seasons, which will run through April in Alabama,

Nine non-fatal firearm incidents have been reported since the opening of dove season in September, and only four of the nine occurred as a result of deer-hunting activities.

As far as tree stands go, eight non-fatal incidents have been reported since the opening of archery (deer) season Oct. 15, 2006.

In Alabama, hunting provides about 5 million days of recreation for approximately 423,000 hunters and generates a direct economic impact of about $800 million annually.

Statistics from the National Safety Council indicate hunting is one of the safest outdoor recreation activities. In fact, nationwide, there are fewer than 10 firearm related incidents requiring emergency room treatment per 100,000 participants.

WFF director Corky Pugh attributes the decline in the hunting incident rates to increased hunter awareness and the mandatory hunter education program.

“The hunter education program has positively influenced the actions of Alabama’s hunters and the future of our rich heritage,” Pugh said.

Anyone born on or after Aug. 1, 1977, must participate and pass an approved hunter education program before he can get a Alabama hunting license, which is required for those 16 years of age and older.

I’ve been asked many times by hunting enthusiasts if the Alabama program will suffice for other states that require hunter education. The answer to the question is yes. But something to keep in mind is you might want to read the laws of other states in which you plan to hunt.

In Alabama, the law requires folks to pass a hunter education course before they can purchase a hunting license, and the age limit is normally 16.

Some other states require a hunter education certificate for anyone old enough to purchase a hunting license in their state. An example would be that someone 55 years old would have to have an approved certificate before he can purchase a hunting license in a state other than the state in which he lives.

I’m sure there will be a few questions directed to me about the contents of this column. Many would say that hunting season is over and this is something that needs to be written next year.

Well, it’s true, deer season is over with in Alabama. But, believe it or not, there are many other seasons still active according to where you are hunting.

Many sections of Alabama still have quail, squirrel, rabbit, raccoon and opossum, to name a few that are still in session. Also, depending on where you plan to hunt, turkey season is still to come. March and April are times when you should check local rules and regulations to find out when it is legal to hunt turkey.

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Paul Stackhouse
Outdoors
Paul Stackhouse

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