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Daily News Editorial

By Staff | Oct 25, 2008

At 8 a.m. today, hunters around Iowa continued a ritual that has gone on now for well over 100 years – the beginning of rooster pheasant season.

The pheasant opening today goes from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and goes through Jan. 10 of next year. Pheasant season this year coincides with the start of bobwhite quail which goes from Oct. 25 through Jan. 31.

Following are some safety tips to follow when hunting this season.

First of all, know where your gun is pointed at all times. That sounds simple enough, but particularly if you’re hunting in groups, make sure everyone knows where the other person is at any given time. Allow each shooter a designated field of fire and stick to it. Duck hunters have fewer hunting accidents than upland bird hunters because they tend to hunt alone more. But with pheasant hunters hunting in group, there’s bound to be more accidents. So be careful. You wouldn’t want to end up like Dick Cheney now, would you?

Unless you’re ready to shoot, keep your safety on. Practice putting the safety on and off so you can do it when you’re ready to shoot.

Use shell sizes and loads for the appropriate game. There are different loads for clays, pheasants, ducks and geese, so follow the instructions listed on each box accordingly.

NEVER NEVER cross a fence with a loaded gun. Always make sure your gun is unloaded and the action is open.

Be sure of your target. Don’t shoot at just any movement. It’s better to miss that once-in-a-lifetime shot than it is to injure another person or a non-game animal.

Know what’s beyond your target. Are there people there? Houses? Livestock? Then you’re hunting in the wrong place.

Alcohol and vehicles don’t mix. Neither do alcohol and guns. Even a little alcohol can blur your judgement so you’ll take a shot that you wouldn’t normally.

Put your gun away properly to and from the field. Make sure it’s unloaded and stowed away safely in a gun case. And at home, particularly if there are children about, make sure you have a trigger lock.

A little prevention now can keep the sport of pheasant hunting from becoming a tragedy. So use a little common sense.

And have a great hunt!