With hunting seasons underway, outdoor enthusiasts urged to follow safety tips

Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has issued a safety reminder for outdoor enthusiasts as a variety of hunting seasons are currently underway – most notably the opening of the fall firearms deer season which begins on Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Specific deer hunting season information is available on the DEEP website a twww.ct.gov/deep/hunting.

“This is a popular time for others to enjoy the many outdoor opportunities that our state has to offer, such as hiking and biking,” said DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen. “Therefore, it is especially important for all outdoor users to respect the rights of others and be aware of all activities that may be occurring outdoors. Connecticut hunters have an excellent safety record and awareness on the part of all outdoor users can help in our efforts to keep hunting safe for everyone.”

Whether you like to hike, camp, horseback ride, mountain bike, hunt, or fish, it is a good idea to observe a few safety precautions while outdoors.

Basic safety tips that all outdoor users should follow:

• When you use the outdoors, let someone know where you plan to be and when you will return;

• Familiarize yourself with the area you will be using and know the activities that occur there;

• Wear brightly-colored clothing. A fluorescent vest and/or hat is recommended;

• If you see another person while in the woods, whether a hiker, hunter, biker or horseback rider, call out to them to make them aware of your location;

• Respect property rights. Remember, all users are required to obtain permission from the owner before entering private property. For many hunters, written permission must be carried while on private property.

Report violations of state laws and regulations to the DEEP Environmental Conservation Police at 860-424-3333. You may also use the “Turn-in-Poachers” Hotline at 1-800-842-HELP, where callers can choose to remain anonymous and receive cash rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the violator.

Hunting is allowed on private lands and on most state forests and wildlife management areas, and some state parks. Detailed information about hunting seasons, public hunting areas, laws, and regulations is in the 2014 Connecticut Hunting and Trapping Guide, which is available at all town halls, license agents, and on the DEEP Web site (www.ct.gov/deep/hunting).

In general, peak hunting occurs during early morning and late afternoon, primarily from mid-October through mid-December.

Hunters should also follow four basic, but important, rules:

• Assume every firearm is loaded.

• Control the muzzle – point the firearm in a safe direction at all times.

• Keep your trigger finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot.

• Be sure of your target, and what is in front of it and what lies beyond.

Sportsmen must observe the fluorescent orange clothing requirements, which specify that a minimum of 400 square inches be worn above the waist and be visible from all sides from September 1 through the last day in February. An orange hat, in addition to a coat or vest, is strongly recommended. Some exceptions do apply; they are listed in the 2014 Connecticut Hunting and Trapping Guide.