Joining me now is Sgt. Matt Schafer of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, to talk about deer season which starts here in West Virginia on Monday. Thanks for being here. It starts on Monday, runs for 2 weeks. What's the outlook for this season? Matt: Well, a lot of times the number of bucks that are harvested depends on the weather. And if the weather is clear, not raining a lot, not extremely cold, the hunters will stay in the woods longer. So typically, when that happens, you'll get more bucks harvested. Seems like a good mast year, last year, and from what I'm seeing, driving around on the roads, the bucks are in full rut and there's a lot of them moving right now. Brandon: And any major changes that you guys are expecting for this year? Matt: Well, the major change with the law now is Sunday hunting is legal in all 55 West Virginia counties. So that means, if you have the landowner's written permission, you can hunt, on private land only, on Sundays, wherever hunting's legal, if you get written permission. Brandon: You also wanted to mention safety and talk about that as well? Matt: Absolutely. Our biggest concern, as law enforcement officers, is the safety of the hunters and the general public. And if you do a few certain things, you're going to have a safe hunt. 1 is to wear your blaze orange. West Virginia law requires you to have at least 400 square inches of blaze orange on. And since that law came into effect, we don't have very many hunting-related shootings any more. And so if you wear your blaze orange, like you're required to by law. Also, be sure of your target and what's beyond it. A lot of times people see a deer and you take a shot with a high-powered rifle, you need to know where that bullet's gonna end up. A lot of times that bullet could travel through the deer and you need to make sure you have a safe backstop where you're shooting. And lastly, you need to make sure you don't have your firearm loaded in your vehicle. West Virginia law says it's illegal to have a loaded firearm in a vehicle in a hunting situation. So when you get back to your ATV or your truck, you need to unload your firearm, leave the action open, and then put it in a case. That would be the safest way to transport it. And a lot of times, now, like I said, we're not really having any calls on people being shot while hunting, or anything like that. One of the major things we're getting calls on is people falling out of tree stands. So if you're using a tree stand, you need to make sure you're wearing your harness as the manufacturer recommends and know how to use it properly. Brandon: And is there anything else we should be aware of? Anything else people should know? Matt: Just make sure you practice what you've learned in hunter's safety courses. We teach hunter's safety courses in all counties across West Virginia. It's a really good class and it will teach you how to hunt safely and how to handle your firearm safely. Brandon: And does the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources have more information on hunter safety on their website? Matt: Absolutely, yes. You can now even check in your deer online, or on your phone. And if you go to our website (https://www.wvdnr.gov/lenforce/law.shtm), it has information on how to check in your deer, hunter safety classes and hunting regulations for West Virginia.
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