ARDMORE, OK -- The great outdoors beckons to hunters, especially with deer season on the way. One of the keys to putting that prize buck on your wall is staying safe in the woods. Scott Morgan has hunted all his life.
"I like getting back out into nature," he said.
And he knows safety is a priority.
"Knowing what the laws are protects yourself and protects your sport," Morgan said.
And that protection starts with awareness. The most common hunting mishaps include accidentally firing a weapon, falling from a tree stand and shooters misidentifying targets. Wildlife and Range consultant Russell Stevens says these all have one thing in common.
"Falling out of trees, firearm accidents and that sort of thing are all simply because somebody wasn't paying attention to what they're doing," Stevens said.
Stevens said paying attention to what you're doing includes following these tips:
-Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
-Positively identify a target before shooting.
-And know that a safety is a mechanical device that sometimes fails.
Stevens also says knowing regulations is important. A few new rules for Texas are:
-Silencers are allowed for alligators, game animals and birds. -Grayson, Collin, Dallas, and Rockwall counties will allow full-season, either-sex harvest by lawful archery equipment only.
-Several new hunting licenses are available
-Some new laws have increased penalties for trespassing.
Stevens said regulations are important, but safety is final.
"Once that trigger is pulled or once that arrow is shot, you can never take them back," said Stevens.
Muzzleloading for deer hunting season starts October 27th in Oklahoma, and the general season in Texas starts November 3rd.