By the time many people will be reading this, hundreds of thousands of blaze-orange outfitted hunters will be heading out for the opener of Minnesota’s firearms deer hunting season.

While the intended audience may miss this on the opener Saturday morning, the rifle deer hunting season is open through Nov. 14 for most of the Brainerd lakes area, and Nov. 21 for areas farther north and east and within chronic wasting disease zones.

There’s plenty of time for everyone to get a deer and the weather, especially for opening weekend, looks to be nice. Along with offering good luck we also offer some good advice for all hunters — be safe out there this year.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota has enjoyed two firearms deer seasons and nearly three years without a hunting-related firearms death — the longest stretch since the agency has been tracking these statistics.

Let’s not jinx it now.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Following the basic rules of firearms safety, the DNR reports hunters can avoid most hunting-related firearms incidents:

  • Treat every firearm as if it’s loaded.

  • Always control the muzzle.

  • Be sure of the target and what’s beyond it.

  • Put finger on the trigger only when ready to shoot.

The DNR also offered the following tips stay safe while using elevated hunting stands:

  • Check the stand before the season to ensure it remains in good working order.

  • Climb into and out of the tree stand before the season begins, so that you remember what it feels like.

  • Inspect the safety harness thoroughly, and use it when in the stand, as well as when climbing into and out of it.

  • Maintain three points of contact with the steps or ladder at all times.

The number of hunting-related firearms fatalities dropped significantly since the 1960s and 1970s, the DNR reported, when it wasn’t unusual for 10 or more hunters to die each year. In the past 10 years, a total of 14 people died in firearms-related hunting incidents, many during the firearms deer season.

“Our goal is that every hunter make it home safely at the end of every hunt,” said Col. Rodmen Smith, director of the DNR Enforcement Division, in a news release. “That doesn’t happen by chance; it happens when all hunters understand what’s at stake when they head out for the day.”

The summation is, deer hunters are progressively getting better when it comes to safety while hunting, but serious injuries or even tragedies can still happen. Everyone needs to stay vigilant.

Most of all, we hope everyone has a safe — and successful — firearms deer hunting season.