Hoosiers are deer hunting with high-power rifles. I never thought I’d see the day. Tens-of-thousands of deer hunters are hitting the woods with a .30-30, .243, .30-06 and or other caliber of rifle in hand for the first time this year. I am optimistically anxious to see how it goes.
My cousin, Derek, and I were talking about the legalization of rifles at length the other day. We grew up hunting together on a small farm in Pulaski County near Lake Bruce. There is very little woodland cover scattered among the endless ocean of agriculture fields. We hunted fence rows and small pockets of timber. But what used to be enough land to host four hunters is now only enough for one.
We have stands at the corners of a large field, all roughly two hundred yards apart. With a shotgun or muzzleloader, each hunter was able to cover 150 yards or so. Now, with a dialed in rifle, one hunter can cover the entire field. Shots of 300 yards are routine for a decent shooter with a well-sighted rifle. A lot of deer that would have been able to elude hunters in the past are now going to be easy targets. And in a state where there is a lot of concern among hunters over the deer population, a surge in the number of deer killed is going to infuriate a lot of hunters.
Some people are real concerned about the safety factor associated with using a rifle capable of firing a bullet much further than a shotgun or muzzleloader could. Safety must be on the top of anyone’s mind when using a firearm, so here is a refresher on the four basic rules of firearms safety:
1. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded Always assume a firearm is loaded. Check and recheck to make sure your firearm is unloaded and then still treat it like it is. Never assume you unloaded your weapon. Be positive.
2. Always point the firearm in a safe direction. Even if an unwanted discharge occurs no one will be hurt if you always point the firearm in a safe direction. Never, ever point a firearm at a person, house, vehicle or any place a person may be. Be aware. Always know where your firearm is pointed.
3. Keep your finger out of the trigger guard and off the trigger until ready to shoot. If your finger isn’t on the trigger, the firearm is very unlikely to go off. Make sure branches and other objects do not contact the trigger. Playing with a trigger is a dangerous. Keep your fingers away the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond your target. Make absolutely certain you can positively identify your target and what is beyond it. Make sure there are no other hunters, houses, vehicles, or other animals beyond your target in case your bullet misses your target or travels through your target. Never shoot a deer that is on the horizon. Always be sure of what is behind the deer. Plain and simple, be 100 percent positive of where your bullet is going to land.
My hope is all goes well with rifles as part of Indiana’s deer season. It is just going to take everyone making sound decisions. If you are one of the hunters opting to use a rifle this season, please keep safety in mind at all times.