Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police and the Delaware Hunter Education Program reminded hunters to observe safe gun handling and hunting practices.

Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police and the Delaware Hunter Education Program reminded hunters to observe safe gun handling and hunting practices before, during and after they have gone afield in pursuit of game animals.

Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers responded to Milford Memorial Hospital on Oct. 7, where a 32-year-old downstate man was treated after a hunting accident near Harrington. The man told investigating officers that while preparing to go deer hunting, he failed to check whether his muzzleloader contained a powder charge and had a bullet in it before putting a live percussion cap in the rifle. Bypassing these precautionary measures, he placed the muzzleloader against his right foot, squeezed the trigger and discharged a .50-caliber round into his foot.

Delaware Hunter Education Coordinator Mark Ostroski stressed all four rules of gun safety: “always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Never point at anything you do not intend to shoot. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded, even when you are sure it is empty. Be absolutely certain of your target and what lies beyond and in front of your target. Keep your finger outside of the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.”

Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police also advised hunters to become familiar with state, county and local regulations before choosing their hunting spots and shared a reminder to hunters to be observant of their surroundings and take appropriate safety precautions. Hunters should consider their surroundings and how far the ammunition they are using can travel because it is illegal in Delaware to discharge a firearm so that a shotgun pellet, slug or bullet lands upon any occupied dwelling, house or residence or any related barn, stable or other outbuilding.

In addition, only the owner or occupant or a person with specific permission from the owner or occupant can legally discharge a firearm within 100 yards of an occupied dwelling, house or residence or any related barn, stable or other outbuilding. The statewide safety zone for archery deer hunting, including crossbows, is 50 yards. Within this safety zone, it is illegal for anyone other than the owner or occupant to hunt, trap, pursue, disturb or otherwise chase any wild animal or bird without advance permission of the owner or occupant.

Discharging a firearm while on or within 15 yards of a public road or right-of-way is also illegal in Delaware, unless it is an area controlled by DNREC, the Department of Agriculture or the U.S. Department of the Interior and designated as an area open to hunting or trapping. Shooting at a wild fowl or animals in a public roadway or firing across a public roadway is also prohibited.

Upstate hunters should also note that New Castle County has its own ordinances, including a 200-yard firearm safety zone from homes, structures and camps north of Interstate 295 and Interstate 95 in which firearms may not be discharged and a 100-yard firearm safety zone south of Interstate 295 and Interstate 95. A 50-yard safety zone for archery deer hunting, including crossbows, is in effect for all of New Castle County.

For more information, visit http://nccde.org/229/County-Laws-Code, bit.ly/2e8YPhI or bit.ly/2f1Wswn.