Tip from the Hunters: Safety First

A 17-year-old hunter in Georgia is dead after he was fatally shot Saturday when his hunting party mistook the teen for a deer, according to police. -Newspaper Headline, September 30, 2019

Texas White tailed Deer Trophy Antler Buck

Having sat huddled in your wildlife blind since 4 AM, the damp is creeping through your clothes. Your anxiousness increases proportionately with your sore legs and bottom. “This is my one free weekend this season. I have to see something,” you say in your mind, careful not to murmur aloud and possibly scare away that large deer you are dreaming of photographing.

Just as the waiting-game seems unbearable, something moves along the trail. “I saw some brown… a patch of white… it must be a monster White-tailed Buck”. You raise your camera and fire in the direction of the movement and out pops… a hiker!

Texas Trophy Whitetailed Deer Buck

Frustrating? Yes, that’s wildlife photography. Waiting for the animal that may never show up. After several hours, every rustle in the bushes, every passing blur and your mind thinks it is some sort of amazing creature ready for a photograph.

Now I want you to imagine that you are not a frustrated photographer, but a young or inexperienced hunter sitting in that blind. He’s been there all morning… he’s only got this one weekend off work to bag a deer… he has to come home with something. And that rustle in the bushes that he hopes is his big deer is actually you. He raises his gun and fires. Your photography days are over.

This isn’t completely imaginary. It is now fall and the deer are in their prime: thick brown coats; large antler racks scraped free of velvet. Wildlife photographer and hunter alike want to get out and get one. But this can potentially put both in the woods together. You must think of your safety first.

Hunter and dogs

Gun season hasn’t even begun in my home of Georgia, yet a teenager has already been shot and killed. Whenever my hiking and photography trips take me into areas that may be shared with hunters, I take precaution and put on some “safety orange”. Whether it be the orange bandana hanging off my backpack, or a light vest, I want something to tell the anxious hunter in his deer stand that I’m not the deer he’s been waiting on all morning.So throw on some safety orange and think safety first.

Photo credits: Modestil, William Wise.

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