My son and daughter were both born in November and Andrew’s 10th birthday was a family milestone. I told my wife I’d take care of his birthday gift if she would take care of our daughter’s. I’ll never forget the look on Andrew’s face when he opened the present and saw that Remington shotgun, his first.
I’ll also never forget the look on my wife’s face nor the scolding I got from her. I explained my rationale: Andrew would very soon be taking hunter safety classes so he would know how to safely handle and be around firearms. She felt he was too young, but at age 10 he listened respectfully to everything we told him and that would be an asset in hunter safety class. If we waited until he was 13 or 14, he might believe he knew everything and treat his safety instruction accordingly. My goal was to teach him firearm safety whether he was going to hunt or not, and the earlier, the better for him.
The drive to class took 40 minutes so we had time to bond and talk about what he would learn. When I was his age, no hunter safety certificate was required, and I thought it would be good to take the class with Andrew instead of just waiting for him.
When he told me he’d outscore me on the test, the competition was on. That sort of challenge from your 10-year-old really turns on the pressure, and it was no relief when he got to take the test in the first wave, and I knew the result before taking my turn: He’d scored 100. I couldn’t afford even one mistake. Fortunately, the contest ended in a draw.
Teaching Andrew safety with firearms had a huge, positive effect on him. I’ve watched him teach his sister, mother, and college friends how to handle firearms safely and how to use them safely on our farm. And as we approach this year’s hunting season, I’m mindful of some ideas from SafeElectricity.org and the Energy Education Council, of which your statewide co-op organization is a member.
Wearing a bright orange vest, keeping your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot, and never pointing a gun except at your intended target are fundamental to hunter safety, and electrical safety belongs on the same list.
Never shoot at or toward power lines or poles, transformers, or substations. A stray bullet could damage equipment, potentially interrupting electric service. It could also be deadly. Damage to overhead conductor could drop the line to the ground, risking electrocution of those nearby.
Safe Electricity urges hunters to follow these tips:
• Familiarize yourself with the location of power lines and equipment on land where you shoot.
• Be especially careful in wooded areas where power lines can be less visible.
• Take notice of warning signs and keep clear of electrical equipment.
• Do not place deer stands on utility poles, and don’t climb poles. Energized lines and equipment on poles can conduct electricity to anyone who comes in contact with them.
• Do not place decoys on power lines or other utility equipment. Anything other than utility equipment that’s attached to a pole is an obstruction and a serious hazard to utility workers.
Don’t make lineworkers hunt for problems in your hunting area. Damage might not be noticed for weeks or months unless an outage occurs. Keep yourself and utility workers safe this hunting season. And for electrical safety tips that can save lives year ‘round, visit SafeElectricity.org.