Inspector Mark Andrews
Ontario Provincial Police
North East Region – Traffic & Marine
This is an important safety message brought to you by the Ontario Provincial Police.
THE FALL HUNT – GEAR UP FOR SAFETY
A safe fall hunt calls for solid planning and the wherewithal to follow the game plan. Proper preparation is critical to a safe hunt and a sure return home. Tourist outfitters and guides know this, and it is critical that patrons understand it too. Always gear up for safety!
Know the territory – a topographical map, GPS and compass will get you in and out of the bush, but only if you know how to use them. Always pack extra batteries. Check the long-range weather forecast. Map the area you are hunting in, leave a copy at home and let someone know when you will be returning. Pack a survival/ first aid kit.
Cold water dangers are often ignored when boats are loaded with equipment and hunters fail to wear a personnel flotation device (PFD). There is not much in the way of a second chance when a duck boat unexpectedly overturns and a hunter is thrown into the near freezing water fully geared up in heavy clothing and boots.
Load vessels according to the boat’s specifications, always wear your PFD and watch the weather – it’s predictably unpredictable!
ATVs allow a hunter to get deep into the bush. A reliable and well maintained machine will get you out again. Safety equipment and documentation are required no matter how remote your location. Operators must wear an approved helmet. Tools, extra sparkplugs, tow cable and fuel won’t leave you stranded. Drive within your capabilities. Speed is the most common factor in ATV crashes – a rollover often has fatal results.
Alcohol and firearms are a deadly mix. Always secure your long-guns and, it should go without saying, drive sober.
A hunter who refuses to admit that he’s turned around and doesn’t signal and sit tight is compromising search efforts.
A lost-person ground search is a solid, team effort on the part of OPP officers, canine teams, helicopter units, volunteer searchers and ultimately the hunter and hunting party.
Outdoor enthusiasts are urged to stay alert, and hunt responsibly.