The Cochrane OPP is reminding hunters of safety practices now that hunting season is upon us. Back and rural roads will have hunters out, and the OPP and MNR will be working together to ensure safe and ethical hunting practices. The OPP is gives some tips to hunters, including wearing hunter orange, tell someone where and when you will be hunting, and make sure your firearm is unloaded before traveling with it.

A full list of safety tips from the OPP:

• Ensure that you have the appropriate hunting licences for the game that you will be hunting for. It is your responsibility to know the game possession limits for your hunting area, as well as the hunting season dates for your wildlife management area.

• Check your Firearms Licence (Possession / Acquisition or Possession Only) to make sure that they are current. You must have a current licence to carry a firearm and have it with you.

• When transporting your firearm and ammunition, ensure that both are secured properly. It is an offence to have a loaded firearm in your vehicle, ATV or vessel. It is also an offence to shoot across a roadway.

• The more visible you are-the safer you will be.  Wear hunter orange as per hunting regulations.

• Tell someone where you will be hunting and when you expect to be back. Take a cell phone with you if possible. When walking, let someone know where you will park your vehicle. If you become lost or injured, this will assist searchers in locating you. When lost–“hug a tree” and wait for searchers to find you.

• Dress for the weather and wear proper footwear. Fall weather can often change quickly.

• Be prepared. Pack items such as water, snacks, matches, a first aid kit, map, compass, knife, flashlight and perhaps extra gloves/socks and a wind breaker. A GPS is always a good idea.

• Hunt only where you are permitted.

• Practice safe firearm handling practices. Treat all guns as if they are loaded. Ensure that you safely carry your firearm. Keep the safety on and finger off the trigger until you are actually going to fire. Be sure of your target and beyond. If you are not sure of either, do not fire and wait. There may be others in the forest close by.

• Unload and “prove safe” your firearm before you put it away or get into your vehicle-This means unloaded, with the clip / ammunition removed and the safety on.

• Alcohol / drugs and hunting do not mix–period. Be alcohol / drug free while you are hunting and ensure that all members of your party do the same. The consequences can be tragic.

• When using an Off Road Vehicle or ATV, it is your responsibility to abide by the relevant legislation pertaining to its operation and the carrying of a firearm while travelling.

• Show consideration for others using the forest. If someone approaches you, unload your firearm as a courtesy. If the area is busy, consider a different area to hunt.
Hunter safety is everyone’s responsibility.

• Hunters are responsible for disposing of hides and entrails safely and ethically. Some municipal dumps may accept carcasses, but it is best to consult your municipality before hunting.

• Watch out for others as public lands in Ontario are used for a variety of activities. Be aware that you may be sharing the forest with other hunters, as well as hikers, riders and birdwatchers.

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) encourages all Ontario residents to practice safe and ethical hunting practices when using Ontario’s Forests.

For more information about hunting regulations consult the 2014-2015 Hunting Regulations Summary available at ontario.ca/hunting, or go to www.mnr.gov.on.ca or contact your local MNR office.

If you witness a hunting violation, call 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667) or call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), where you may be eligible to receive a cash reward of up to $2,000.

Happy and Safe Hunting to all!