Authorities hope for safe opening of Utah deer hunt

LOGAN — Authorities are reminding hunters to be safe as Utah’s rifle deer hunt begins this weekend, especially considering last week’s shooting accident that killed 10-year-old Zachary Woodruff, of Smithfield.

Woodruff was shot at close range, while a man was removing a rifle from the rack of a four-wheeler. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Lt. David Beveridge said the most important recommendation he has for hunters, is to always control where the muzzle of their gun is pointed.

“You have got to keep you guns pointed in a safe direction at all times,” said Beveridge.

In addition, Beveridge said hunters should never have their guns loaded with a bullet in the chamber, until they are ready to shoot.

“You should always have time to assess the situation, put a round into the chamber and not make a quick decision. Yeah, always assume your gun is loaded, keep it empty while you are in a vehicle. Control the muzzle and keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot it. That is what we teach.”

This weekend’s rifle hunt is the most popular in the state and DWR expects tens of thousands of hunters — plus their families and friends to be heading into the backcountry.

Beveridge said he recommends everyone, not just hunters who will be in the mountains this weekend, to wear bright hunter orange.

“Wear hunter orange so people can clearly see you are in the area and not shoot towards you.”

DWR conservation officers will be on patrol, talking with hunters, checking licenses and making sure regulations are followed.

Beveridge said hunters are encouraged to call the DWR tip line if they witness anything illegal. The phone number is 800-662-DEER.

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