Hunters should be alert and aware during primitive weapons deer hunting season, Oct. 10-16. Muzzleloaders or ‘blackpowder guns’ require specific safety precautions.
“Hunters who use muzzleloading guns during primitive weapons season should know that they have specific safety precautions,” says Lt. Judd Smith of the Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. “The user must be completely familiar with all safety requirements regarding the handling, loading and firing of the gun before using it to hunt.”
Following are safety recommendations to ensure a safe experience:
· Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
· Never rely solely on the gun’s “safety” mechanism.
· Handle every gun as if it was loaded.
· Do not use alcohol or drugs while handling a firearm.
· Never smoke in the proximity of a muzzleloader.
· Use an intermediate device, such as a measure, to pour powder into a barrel.
· Keep flask and powder containers away from flames and sparks to prevent an accidental explosion.
· Use only powders specific to each muzzleloader and recommended by that firearms manufacturer.
· Place percussion cap on nipple only when ready to shoot.
· The gun is safely unloaded only after removing the bullet, powder and percussion cap. If using a flintlock muzzleloader, remove the bullet and powder, and un-prime the flash pan.
· Use the recommended loading materials, the correct powder charge, the right diameter and weight bullet and the correct lead material.
· Never use plastic (poly) patches. These are different from sabots.
· Treat a misfire as though the gun could fire at any moment.
· Make sure the gun is unloaded before attempting to clean it.
· Make sure the projectile is firmly seated on the powder before capping and firing.
· Never blow down the barrel of a muzzleloader to clear or extinguish sparks.
All hunters, including archers, must wear at least 500 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange above the waist during the primitive weapons season.
For more information on muzzleloader and general firearms safety, contact the nearest Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement office or call 770-761-3010.