We know that COVID-19 has been bringing more and more people to socially distant outdoors. In the spring we saw huge increases in the amount of people fishing. The lakes were almost crowded in some areas. In fact there was a shortage of boat trailer parking spots at just about any boat launch. Just as with fishing, hunting license sales are on the increase. While that's great for the outdoor economy and state revenue, it also brings a bit of danger.

I've hunted most of my life, and I can tell you there are certain risks you take when you go out in the woods. Some of them you can control like preparing yourself with items on hand to survive if you get lost. You can dress appropriately and wear you orange gear. You can practice good gun safety and know how to handle your firearm. The one thing you really can't control is what someone else is going to do.

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Fortunately, it is very rare that a hunter shoots another hunter. In Wisconsin if you were born after January 1, 1973 you need to have completed a firearm safety course in order to purchase a hunting license. In Minnesota people born after December 31, 1979 are also required. So most people new to the sport should have proper training to go out in the woods.

However, people do make mistakes. Hunting accidents do happen, and with the increase of people in the woods it's a possibility we could see more of them this year. Brush up on your gun safety. Prepare yourself and communicate with people in your hunting party about safety plans and where you will be when you are out in the woods. Also be prepared to encounter other hunters that may not usually be in your area.

I remember how frustrating it was as an outdoorsman to encounter people not taking nature seriously this spring with the pandemic. There was so much more trash than normal on our lakes and trails and campsites. Hopefully the added regulations in hunting will weed out the bad apples and we won't run into any issues this deer season.