The Herald Bulletin

November 27, 2013

Rick Bramwell: Everyone needs safety measures

By Rick Bramwell
For The Herald Bulletin

---- — The Tim Bowers hunting accident got The Herald Bulletin editorial staff motivated to do a piece on hunter safety. They took a good stab at it, but I don't think any of them hunt, but we do.

I know of the mistakes you have made and are making. If you are guilty, so am I.

As a fraternity, we hunters are pretty safe. Most have taken hunter ed courses and our DNR officials have adopted rules that lend to our wellbeing. For instance, we have to wear hunter orange during the deer gun and upland small game seasons. Even cammo ground blinds have to have a blaze orange patch on all sides.

Few of us cross a fence without handing our gun to a buddy or unloading it. That is an accident you don't hear about anymore.

Do you sometimes put a loaded gun in your vehicle? I have. I will take the primer out of my muzzleloader, but will leave the safety on and hammer down on my Marlin lever action .44 mag. My reason is the darn thing is difficult to load and I usually put six cartridges in the tube and one in the barrel.

I can remember almost every fatal accident that has occurred in Indiana during the last 50 years. One was at Morgan/Monroe State Forest. These guys had gun racks on the back window of their pick up. One was waiting to get in the truck, the other hung his slug gun on the rack. The gun went off. The slug easily went through the truck and hit the guy waiting in the head. There were no last words or an "I'm sorry." We must take the time to unload our guns before we get in the vehicle.

Last year a 19-year-old hunter was lowering his loaded gun from a tree stand with a lanyard. The gun went off and killed him. You don't have to make a lot of racket unloading your gun, in this situation, just take the shell out of the chamber.

I have developed a habit that I teach young hunters. Often, throughout a day of hunting, I check to make sure my safety is on. A hunter may see an animal, slide off the safety and not get a shot. During the excitement, you may forget to put the safety back on. If you're guilty, so am I.

There are three basic tree stands, lock-on, climbers, and ladder stands. Safety harnesses are cheap and never do I fail to use one with the first two aforementioned stands. The ladder stand is different. For some reason, I feel much safer climbing a ladder stand; it is not as high and very stable.

That becomes a false sense of security when you began to dose off. Are you guilty of this? So am I. Purchase a ratchet strap or just tie a rope around the tree to hold you in.

Congratulations to Jordan Lycan for taking his first deer, a nine point buck (17-inch spread) with his bow.

Rick Bramwell’s column appears Thursdays in The Herald Bulletin sports section. To contact him, email