During gun deer season, don't forget safety for young hunters

SEYMOUR, Wis. - The gun deer hunt starts Saturday in Wisconsin. It's an important time of the year to go over the safety rules to avoid a tragic situation. 

The season lasts 9 days. 

A new bill just signed by Governor Walker eliminates the minimum age requirement to hunt in our state. The law had previously required a child to be at least 10-years-old to participate in a mentored hunt. 

It is now more important than ever to make sure our young hunters are prepared to handle a firearm. 

Eric DeBruin of Seymour is busy getting his two boys ready for the gun deer hunt. 

It's a job he takes very seriously. 

"If they're genuinely understanding how the weapon works and the rules of hunter safety there isn't going to be a problem," said Eric DeBruin. 

According to the DNR the first thing your child needs to do is attend a 10-hour hunter safety course costing $10 per student. 

They must show their certificate in order to purchase a hunting license in Wisconsin unless taking part in the mentored hunting program. 

The acronym T.A.B.K. outlines the four basic safety rules for each hunter to follow. 

  • Treat every firearm as if it were loaded
  • Always point your muzzle in a safe direction
  • Be sure of your target and beyond
  • Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to fire

"There's a lot more hunters out during the 9-day season and that's why it's more critical to follow all the safety rules," said George Protogere, a warden supervisor with the Wisconsin DNR. 

Last year the Wisconsin DNR responded to 11 hunting incidents involving injuries, 5 of those were during the 9-day gun deer season and 3 of those involved younger hunters. 

"The T.A.B.K. rules apply no matter how old we are and if they get a full understanding of that, I feel their phones are actually more dangerous than the gun," said Eric DeBruin. 

For Debruin and his boys a safe hunt is a successful hunt. 

He's been lucky enough to watch both of his sons shoot bucks. 

"The raw emotion for me as a dad is exciting," said Eric DeBruin. 

"My trophy bucks mean a lot to me," said 14-year-old William DeBruin. "It was a lot of fun shooting them with my dad." 

For this family it's not about competition, it's the camaraderie. 

"We maintain levelness. It's more about being together," said Eric DeBruin. 

DeBruin's son Braden is 12-years-old and said he enjoys playing games in the stand watching the wildlife and nature. 

For Eric DeBruin, passing down the knowledge of one of his favorite pastimes has been one of his proudest moments as a father. 

"It means a lot just being with him because I love him a lot," said William DeBruin. 

DeBruini said his boys are patient, quick thinkers and good listeners. 

These are all the characteristics of a good and safe hunter. 

The DNR said every parent should know what their child is capable of. 

They recommend going out with your child the first few times to make sure they are following the rules. 

If they are 9-years-old or younger the law said they should always be with a parent. 

Other safety tips to keep in mind during the gun deer season: 

  • Make sure guns are locked up and out of reach of little ones
  • Store ammunition in a different location than your firearm
  • Know your shooting hours during the hunting season. 

For more information visit the DNR website.
 

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