Like many of you out there, I can't wait for those few days out of the year that I get to pick up my shotgun and chase whitetail deer around. I have so many great memories of not only good hunts but also good times spent with family and friends in my hunting group sitting around the shed at night swapping hunting stories. This is a typical tradition of so many shotgun hunters in Iowa. We don't just look forward to the hunt; we look forward to the time we get to spend with our group. Although this can be one of the most exciting and fun times of the year, it can also be one of the most dangerous. Carelessness and unfortunately sometimes stupidity can turn what's supposed to be a fun experience into a deadly one.
Growing up my dad drilled into me the importance of being safe with a firearm, which eventually led to me becoming a hunter safety instructor. But all the safety training in the world can go flying out the door when a big buck runs in front of you. It happens to the best of us. A big deer comes running by and you are no longer thinking about where the rest of your group is, all that's on your mind is shooting that deer. This is where discipline has to take over. You should know where all the members of your group are before you even think about shooting your gun. And just as important, if you tell your group where you're going, make sure you stick to that plan and don't go wandering off. A strict plan should be set before starting your hunt. One person deciding to change where they're sitting or walking without telling everyone can put not only their safety but the safety of the group in jeopardy. Safety has to be the first thing on your groups mind. Accidents can happen at any time. From loading and unloading your guns at the truck to crossing fences with your gun. Don't let your common sense fly out the window.
There are also some stupid hunters out there. I guess I shouldn't use the word hunter because that's not what they are and they don't deserve to call themselves that. I'm referring to the type of person that flies through a field with their truck chasing a deer, or someone using a vehicle to scare deer toward hunters, or the person who drives the gravels at two in the morning with a spot light looking for a deer to poach. Using your vehicle in any manner to chase or kill a deer is not only illegal it's just plain wrong. If you can't get out of the truck to kill a deer then you don't deserve to hunt at all. These are the type of people who make shotgun hunting dangerous. They're also the type that gives true hunters a bad name.
I encourage anybody out there, whether you're a hunter or not to turn in anybody hunting illegally. The number for the Grundy County Sheriff is 319-824-6933. Or you can call the TIP (Turn in Poachers) hotline is 1-800-532-2020. Have a safe hunting season.