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Safety is Focus of Deer Hunting Season Following Fatality

COLUMBUS (Lu Ann Stoia) -- A hunter was fatally shot as the seven-day deer hunting season began. Now, wildlife officers are working to make sure Ohio's half-million hunters are safe and practicing the sport legally.

Wildlife officer Brad Kiger wrote five tickets on the opening day of gun season. While most hunters follow the law, about 800 arrests were made last year, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The top violations included not wearing hunter orange, using an unplugged gun, not having a hunting license or deer permit, and hunting without permission.

At Battelle Darby Metro Park, signs are posted in a special deer-reduction area. Ohio is a top 10 whitetail deer hunting destination, with some 90,000 deer expected to be harvested.

Hunters said they are glad to see the laws enforced.

"It actually makes me happy (that) they're out doing their job (to) make sure everybody's safe," hunter Adam Daniels said.

ODNR reported five non-fatal hunting accidents last year.

Hunter Bob Schoff said safety is at the top of his mind, especially after hearing of an Ohio hunter fatality Monday.

"My heart goes out to the family," he said.

Schoff showed ABC 6 his plugged shotgun, which means it is capable of holding no more than three slugs. The practice is required by law, and Schoff said it should keep hunters safer.

"Ohio's flat. You don't want people emptying the gun five shells at a time at a deer that could be running," he said.

In addition to abiding by hunting regulations, Kiger reminded hunters to follow basic safety rules -- like not drinking and hunting.

"You always have to be sharp, keen," he said.

The seven day deer-gun hunting season runs through Sunday and close to a half million people in Ohio have permits this year.  According to ODNR, Ohio ranks fifth nationally in resident hunters and 11th in the number of jobs generated by hunting related industries. 

Read more about Monday's hunting-relating fatality here: http://bit.ly/1eU0azV
 
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