Leko’s Conservation Corner – Hunting safety

(Last Updated On: October 25, 2017)

Hunting season is rolling now. Many of the draw seasons have opened and before we know it people will be out trying to harvest a deer. As of October 1, the pheasant season is open. And, the rain in some parts of the province was a welcome sight, but we sure could use some more.

I know I am chomping at the bit to have my son coming along with me for hunting season. I am not sure he is ready, as he is only 10, and is still in video game mode where everyone gets three lives. He gets so hyped that I am sure he will scare away any wildlife that come within range. My daughter, on the other hand, will never come out with me as she wants a deer fawn for a pet and thinks that pheasants are cute.

Today, I don’t see as many kids out hunting with their parents anymore. When I was a junior officer, back when the bands .38 Special and Styx were popular… I saw many kids with their parents on opening day of white tail. You made it a holiday as no one was in school, but rather spending some time with mom or dad out looking for a nice white-tail deer. It is a great way to learn some life lessons and get some quality time with your family.

It seems like every year there is a hunting accident somewhere in Western Canada. In these cases, I would have to believe that somewhere along the line during the hunt one of the commandments of hunting safety was breeched. That is why I want to remind everyone of the importance of gun and hunting safety.

Here are a few safety rules to keep in mind while hunting:
• always handle firearms with care and attention;
• assume every firearm is loaded – PROVE it safe;
• never shoot unless you’re sure of your target and what lies beyond;
• wear high-visibility clothing as specified in the regulations and make sure you are dressed for the weather;
• use a safety harness in a tree stand, and use a rope to raise and lower weapons;
• make sure someone knows where you’re going and when you’ll be back; and
• always take a survival /first aid kit with you.

As I have been inundated with questions about what people can and cannot do when it comes to hunting, I offer a rapid-fire question and answer, so here we go.

Q: Can hunters use two–way radios while hunting?

No problem with this. These radios can ensure that you know where everyone is and can help if you get lost.

Q: Am I allowed to use a tracking dog to hunt big game? The purpose is to track a wounded animal.

The answer to this is no. No person shall use a dog in any manner related to hunting big game or wild boar. Use of a dog for upland and waterfowl is perfectly normal. In addition, use of a dog for hunting non-protected wildlife is legal.

Q: I have seen turkeys in the wild in the Oxbow area. Are they legal to hunt?

Wild turkeys are protected under The Wildlife Act in Saskatchewan. There is no lawful way that a turkey can be harvested. Many people feel that just because they are not listed in the hunting guide that they are open to hunt. This is not the case.

The goal is to grow the population so that hopefully someday we can have a regular turkey season like they do in other jurisdictions.

Q: Can a non-resident of Saskatchewan shoot coyotes while in the province?

No, only Saskatchewan residents can legally shoot coyotes.

Q: Can I use electronic calls for hunting big game?

Yes, there are no restrictions for using recorded calls for big game hunting. However, it is unlawful to use recorded vocalization for waterfowl, with the exception of snowgeese.

Q: Can I legally hunt big game and coyotes at the same time?

The answer to this is yes. If you do not have a game licence, you cannot hunt coyotes and accompany a big game hunter. The scenario here is…two individuals go hunting together…one has a licence for deer, the other does not.

The person who does not have a license cannot hunt coyotes while the other person is hunting deer.

Q: If I get called to help a friend track a wounded deer, can I bring my rifle with me to put it down?

No, if you do not have a licence, you should not be carrying a firearm. If it is dark, then you should not be carrying a firearm.

Should any of these situations arise, contact the Turn in Poachers (TIP) line Toll-free 1-800-667-7561 and they will put you in contact with a conservation officer who will give you further direction.

Q: Can I use a pellet gun to hunt upland birds?

Yes, a pellet gun is considered a firearm under The Wildlife Act and therefore can be used to hunt upland birds and non-protected species.

Remember that if you have any questions, please drop me a line and I will do my best to answer them for you.

Until next time…make sure your firearm is sighted in and stay safe.

CO Lindsey Leko – Photo credit Ministry of Environment.

Ministry of Environment conservation officer Lindsey Leko has spent more than 25 years as a conservation officer in Saskatchewan. For many years, Officer Leko contributed a column to local papers on a variety of issues related to hunting, fishing, and other resource-related issues. If you have questions, please contact lindsey.leko@gov.sk.ca.