DNR offers safety tips ahead of firearm deer hunting season

Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 4:08 PM CST
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PEORIA (25News Now) - Hunting is a big deal in the Midwest, but hunter safety has already been a concern in neighboring states.

Three people died this past weekend while hunting over the weekend. Two slipped and shot themselves in Kentucky and an Illinois man was shot in Iowa by another hunter.

25News sat down with an official from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to see what hunters need to take into consideration before endangering themselves or others.

Many of the issues relate to some hunters not following basic safety firearm rules, according to DNR.

DNR Deer Project Manager Peter Schlichting advised hunters to always keep guns pointed in a safe direction - never at a person - and to wear a safety harness while in a tree stand.

“Know your weapon. Know how to use it properly. Say you’re getting into a stand, make sure you have a harness with you,” said Schlichting.

“Make sure people know that you’re there. You have a point of contact if you do get into trouble, so they know where to find you,” he added.

So far during the 2023 hunting season, two people died in accidents involving tree stands.

The DNR says tree stands are the number one cause of hunting-related accidents in Illinois.

One person fell from a tree stand. Another hunter, who was reported missing, was eventually found dead at the base of his ladder stand.

Schlichting added that it is illegal to fire a weapon while in an ATV or UTV.

He said deer hunting permits were down 17% in the state from 2011 to 2021.

DNR reports from Wisconsin and Michigan show fewer people will be gun hunting there, with fewer young people deciding to hunt. That could lead to deer overpopulation.

Schlichting said the number of permits purchased this year isn’t finalized, since many hunters will purchase deer permits in the next few days.