Staying safe during hunting season - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Staying safe during hunting season

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The woods are a popular destination this time of year, for both hunters and hikers.
Deer season for firearms starts Saturday in Georgia.
In Tennessee, it begins a few weeks later but safety is always important, on whichever side of the state line you reside.

"Everyone is always concerned about safety, that's a very good question. It's not so much of a concern from where we're from," says Missouri's Katie Wappelhorst, who, with husband Sam are about to embark on their first ever hike of Prentice Cooper State Park in Marion County, Tennessee.  In the distance, they hear the shots being taken from a nearby firing range.

"I'm little more wary of what's going on, pay a little more attention if you hear a gunshot you can see if you can figure out where it came from and stuff   like that, be careful," says Sam.

The Wappelhorst's hiking safety tips are good to hear for Chattanooga's outdoors enthusiast Tony Sanders.

"You need to be aware of what's going on, you need to look and see when hunting is going on and make sure that you're aware and realize that there may be people out in the woods at the same time," says Sanders, who also suggests hikers wear colorful clothing if stepping out in hunting country.

"If it's gun season, you'd want to wear orange, which is what hunters wear to make sure we're identified to other hunters and not mistakenly shot or anything like that," says Sanders.

"At first,  I had a gray shirt on, I changed to a yellow one, hopefully it stands out a little bit more, we'll see about that," smiles Sam.

The Wappelhorsts chose to hike at midday, instead of dawn or dusk.

"During the day is always a good time, number one you have the sun, light and that always helps and reduces any chances of mistakes," affirms Sanders of the Wappelhorst's hiking plans. Sanders says hunters hitting hikers is rare, but not impossible.

"Most of the shootings and accidents we have are truly accidents and usually within the same party," explains Sanders, co-host of a weekly radio show that bears his name. "It's just someone didn't follow the rules and wasn't safe. Very rarely do you hear about a hunter shooting someone thinking it was a deer or some other game, that's pretty rare."

Sanders reminds hunting sportsmen and women to be cognizant of property rights and that permissible hunting on public lands can be quickly found on state wildlife websites. Hunters are also required to be properly licensed, and to wear fluorescent orange clothing above the waist. Sanders suggest hunters with smart phones to download DNR apps to have the latest hunting information and regulations easily accessible at their fingertips.

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