Missouri’s early youth deer season will take place Saturday and Sunday. It’s the first of four firearms seasons in the Show-Me State, during which hunters are required to wear hunter orange.
Sometimes referred to as blaze orange, the color is imperceptible to deer but highly visible to humans, making it an effective — and essential — component of hunter safety.
“The use of hunter orange is extremely important,” explained Lt. Jason Ploss, Conservation Law Enforcement supervisor with the Fort Leonard Wood Directorate of Emergency Services.
Each year, DES issues multiple citations to hunters who fail to wear the color in accordance with state law and post regulations.
“It’s the law: during the firearm portion of deer season, all hunters must wear a cap, or hat, vest or coat, having the outermost color be hunter orange and be plainly visible from all sides while being worn,” Ploss said. “Camouflage-orange garments do not meet this requirement.”
On post, the only exception to the rule is for hunters participating in the Cantonment Archery Hunt, where the use of firearms is prohibited. However, even though wearing orange isn’t required, it’s still a good idea, according to Ploss.
“It’s recommended that hunters in the Archery Only and Cantonment Areas have hunter orange available, should the need arise to track game in areas open to the use of firearms,” he said.
The reason behind the requirements is simple: hunter orange prevents accidental shootings. Donald Busbice Jr., U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood Safety Office director, said hunters who wear hunter orange are seven times less likely to be shot.
“(It) should be worn to make a hunter more visible and prevent other hunters from mistaking them for an animal, or shooting in their direction,” Busbice said. “Hunter orange is worn by hunters to increase their visibility and to reduce their potential for being mistaken for game. Wearing hunter orange when entering and leaving the woods is excellent health insurance, (and) hanging an orange vest or other cloth on or near your tree stand alerts other hunters to your presence without attracting the attention of deer.”
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, state regulations require hunters to wear hunter orange when:
— Hunting any species of game during firearms deer season.
— Hunting in an area that is having a managed firearms deer hunt.
— Serving as a mentor to another hunter during firearms deer season or on an area that is having a managed firearms deer hunt.
Fort Leonard Wood hunters must not only follow state regulations but also FLW Regulation 210-21, which has additional requirements for the muzzleloading portions of firearms deer season, also called the “Firearms Alternative Methods” season from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. During this season, all hunters, regardless of the species of game being pursued, must wear hunter orange. Only bowhunters hunting from elevated stands and waterfowl hunters are exempted.
Additional safety tips
Both Ploss and Busbice recommend that hunters also follow basic firearm safety practices, including:
— Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
— Only point at what you plan to shoot.
— Don’t touch triggers until ready to shoot.
— Before shooting, clearly identify targets, and be aware of what lies beyond them.
— Plan for weather conditions, and dress appropriately before heading out.
— Always let someone know when and where you will be hunting and when they should expect your return.
— When hunting from elevated stands, climbing stands or ladder stands, always use a safety harness.
For more information, visit the Fort Leonard Wood iSportsman site at https://ft leonardwood.isportsman.net.