Opening Day of hunting season draws near
OSCEOLA COUNTY — A lot of folks are getting a little antsy.
Time is short.
Opening Day is soon upon us.
Hunters are dusting off their blaze orange gear and siting in their rifles.
The traditional chili recipe has been reviewed. Beans have been bought and shelved.
New cards have been purchased.
Nov. 15 is just around the corner.
In Osceola County, there are lots of people getting ready for Opening Day — grocery and convenience store owners, ammo merchants, hardware store crews ... anyone serving the hoard of hunters expected on or around Opening Day.
And Osceola County Sheriff’s Department deputies are getting ready too.
“This is a busy time for us,” reported OCSD undersheriff Justin Halliday. “Still, it’s important to point out that we aren’t here to spoil anyone’s fun.
‘We hope residents and visitors to the a area have a great hunting season as it is meant to be. We hope every hunter bags his or her dream buck.
“But we need and want people to be safe, respect property and those around them, and be a hunter in the best traditions of the sport — the type of person we all have come to expect from people hunting in our area.”
Halliday reported Osceola County has been “blessed” with relatively few hunting accidents in the immediate years gone by.
“We have had hunting accidents in the past,” he pointed out. “But over the past few years we’ve been called out to many, many more trespassing complaints.
“Opening Day we can be swamped with trespassing calls.
“We hope people in our area know better,” he continued. “At the same time we need to emphasize to visitors that posted areas are off limits. In fact, even if private property is not expressly posted, it is still private property.
“You should be hunting where you have permission to hunt, and no further.”
Halliday noted that hunters should make arrangements ahead of time to cover situations in which a wounded deer crosses into private property — not on land on which it was shot.
“A person has a right to the deer he or she shot,” he pointed out. “But they do not have a right to cross onto property which is not their’s in order to recover that deer.
“Folks need to think about every potential situation, and talk things out ahead of time.
“If there are conflicts, they should call the DNR or conservation officers.”
Both visitors and residents of Osceola County need to know some important safety rules before setting out to deer camp.
n A hunting license and the identification used to purchase it (Michigan driver’s license, identification card, or DNR sport card) must be carried at all times while hunting.
n All hunters must wear an item of clothing (hat, cap, vest, jacket, or rain gear) in “hunter orange;” it must be the outermost garment; and it must be visible from all sides. If it is camouflage, at least 50 percent of the garment must be orange.
n Hunting hours begin approximately one-half hour before sunrise and last until approximately one-half hour after sunset.
n Safety zones include all areas within 150 yards (450 feet) of an occupied building, house, cabin, barn, or other farm building. You may not hunt in this area or shoot at any animal within this area, unless you have the written permission of the property owner.
n It is illegal to drink alcohol or use intoxicating drugs before hunting.
The OCSD team also wants hunters to take the following precautions to prevent injury or death while hunting this season:
n Familiarize yourself with the area where you will be hunting
n Never assume you are alone in the woods
n Never assume other hunters are acting responsibly.
n If sitting against a rock or tree, make sure it is wider than your shoulders so you are not mistaken for a target.
n Be 100 percent sure of your target before shooting.
Officers with the OCSD will be on patrol and all law enforcement officers will be watching for drunk drivers making their ways around the countryside.
“We get a lot of calls at this time of year from people reporting drunk drivers,” said Halliday. “We pick up quite a few.
“Actually, hunting season doesn’t necessarily bring out more drunk drivers than at any other time from now until New Years Eve.
“This is a busy patrol time of year. We’ll simply keep doing the job we do — whatever the excuse or holiday.”
Law enforcement officials are hoping hunters have a great time in Osceola County this year.
“People heading out to t he woods should know the law by now,” said Halliday.
“We hope hunters will have a great season in 2011.
“We mostly hope they don’t do anything silly, and that they stay safe.”