Texas is a big state with extended unpopulated regions. These regions are home to many wildlife species, most of which are game for recreational hunting.
Hunters in Texas spend more than 25 million days hunting and contribute more than $1 billion a year to the state’s economy. Also, 95 percent of hunters in Texas are residents of the state.
With so many Texans participating in the sport of hunting, firearm safety is very important. The diversity of the types of hunting in Texas also factors into the safety issue. Within our boundaries, there are deer, turkeys, feral hogs, dove and quail to name a few. While public hunting opportunities exist, private leased lands make up the majority of hunting areas.
While hunting provides many Texans with a sporting and recreational hobby, vacation or even a job, it can be dangerous if safety education does not come first.
The Texas Hunter Education Manual lists several safety precautions (commandments) when hunting. The first of these is to treat every firearm or bow with the same respect you would show a loaded gun or nocked arrow. Also, hunters are encouraged to always point the muzzle of a gun in a safe direction. Hunters are also encouraged to be sure of the target, both what is in front of and beyond the target.
Firearms should always be unloaded when not in use. It is also advised to be extremely careful when handling firearms, arrows and ammunition. Hunters should always control emotions when it comes to safety to avoid careless mistakes.
Hearing and eye protection is also a must, especially on firing ranges. Never drink alcohol or take drugs before or while handling firearms, bows or arrows.
Hunting safety is taken very seriously, especially in Texas. Hunter education is required to obtain a hunting license if you were born after Sept. 2, 1971. The minimum age to take the course is 9, but children younger than 12 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Participants are also required to pass an exam at the end of the training course.
A hunter safety course is scheduled at the Denton County Extension office on Aug. 25-26. It will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 25 and from 1 to 5 p.m. Aug. 26. Attendance is required for both days, and the cost for the course is $15 (seating is limited).
To reserve a spot, call 940-349-2880 or e-mail email@example.com.
Lee Standley is the 4-H and youth development county extension agent for the Denton County Texas AgriLife Extension office. He can be reached at 940-349-2880.