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Pierre S.D.- Shouts of "rooster, rooster!" spread through South Dakota fields as pheasant season shifts into high gear. While that excitement is part of the thrill of the hunt, Game, Fish and Parks officials also remind hunters to exercise caution and restraint, especially when flushing low-flying roosters.

During 2008, many of South Dakota's reported hunting accidents occurred during pheasant hunts, quite often when hunters fired at low-flying birds.

"Several accidents occurred last hunting season where hunters swung their shotguns at birds and inadvertently fired in the direction of people in the background," said Hunter Safety Program Specialist Curt Robertson. "It's important to know what's beyond your target before you pull the trigger because someone's life may depend on it."

Hunters using the "walkers and blockers" method need to be extra careful. Last year, several walkers and blockers were injured.

Whether walking a cornfield, milo field or chest-high weeds, hunters in groups are at risk for injury from shots fired at low-flying roosters. "The shot string from a shotgun at a low-flying bird is typically at the upper body level," Robertson noted, "resulting in injuries to the head, neck, chest and arms."

Robertson stated that hunters should always wear orange hats, vests and protective shooting glasses.

"The key to a safe hunt is to know where all hunters in your party are at all times," he said. "If you don't know where they are, don't shoot."

The annual brood count taken last summer indicates that there are plenty of birds out there, Robertson said.

"Let the grass skimmers go and wait for the next chance. It's not worth the risk of injuring one of your hunting companions."

 
 

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