By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – Three hunting accidents put gun safety on the radar of Ontario Provincial Police.
The OPP East Region detachment reported three accidental shootings in Tudor and Cashel Township, Odessa and Montague on Nov. 4. A North Glengarry man, 75, also sustained a gunshot injury when his shotgun accidentally discharged on Nov. 7.
S, D & G OPP Constable Joel Doiron said that reminding hunters about gun safety is a must.
“We’re dealing with a hobby that can have serious consequences considering that firearms are being used,” said Doiron.
OPP work with the Ministry of Natural Resources and various policing counterparts to ensure the safe use of firearms through strict enforcement of hunting guidelines.
“Especially at the time of year when hunters are more active we enforce the safety rules and make everybody accountable for their actions,” he said.
Now that rifle deer-hunting season is here, Cornwall’s Fence Depot is holding its annual Big Buck Contest (co-hosted by the Cornwall Township Lions Club). For John Locke, Fence Depot owner, the topic of safety and firearms is an important part of a business that shoots to kill.
“Hunting is popular in Cornwall and S, D & G. Our ammo that we sell, we tripled what we bought this to last year and we’re running out already,” said Locke. “The dangerous part is the part that’s illegal. If hunters follow the rules that are set for them and the safety courses that they take it’s an enjoyable experience.”
Locke said 500 hunters signed up for this year’s Big Buck Contest. That number boasts a steady rise in hunting activity in contrast to the 375 participants in 2012.
Some recent changes from the government have left a few hunters without a computer or the Internet in the dark.
“Every year the government would give out booklets, but they’re really cutting back, so a lot of hunters are frustrated with that and feel they should be passing out more,” he said.
Fence Depot held two safety seminars this year on a variety of firearms and hunting products. They’re also attempting to get gun companies to help them educate customers on safety.
Locke warned it’s not only the shooters who have to use precautionary measures this hunting season either.
“If you’re a non-hunter, you have to make yourself aware. Wear bright clothing when you enter the bush and make noise,” he said. “It’s bad for the hunters because you’re going to scare the deers away, but at least they will see or hear you. It’s not a good time to be in the bush.”
Doiron said being respectful to other people’s property is a must during hunting season. OPP are asking hunters to always wear bright clothes, have proper firearm storage in their vehicles and never mix alcohol with the sport.