As Northland deer hunters eagerly await the upcoming firearms season, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says now is the perfect time to brush up on firearms safety.

According to the DNR, more than 21,000 students every year in Minnesota earn their firearms safety certification and more than a half-million people hunt every year in Minnesota alone.

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While firearms safety is likely to be top of mind for new hunters, even veteran hunters can benefit from a quick review so that everyone returns safely from their hunts.

Some key things to remember include:

  • Treat every firearm as if it is loaded: Never assume a firearm is unloaded. 
  • Always control the muzzle: Keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction and remember that anything toward which the muzzle points is in the crosshairs. Don’t overlook the possibility of a ricochet.
  • Be sure of your target and what is beyond: You’re responsible for knowing what’s in front of your target, near your target and beyond your target. If you aren’t certain about any of the three, don’t take the shot.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot: Your finger should be outside the trigger guard until you’re ready to shoot.
  • Wear protective gear: Hunters' eyes and ears are vulnerable to a number of potential hazards while hunting, so it’s important to protect them.  Make sure to have eye and ear protection at all times.
  • The effectiveness of blaze orange: Blaze orange has made hunting safer. Spotting a hunter wearing camo is hard, but wearing blaze orange makes you visible to others hunting in the area. You can click here for complete blaze clothing requirements in Minnesota.