Saturday is the opening day for pheasant hunting season in Iowa, and despite lower numbers of the game birds in rural parts of the state, an estimated 80,000 hunters are expected to be out across Iowa. State Conservation Officer John Mertz says safety is always of utmost importance and says hunters should wear as much blaze orange as possible to make themselves visible.

“The minimum a person needs is a hat that is fifty percent blaze orange,” Mertz says. “I really suggest someone has at least a vest on so that they can be seen out there.”

He also says hunters should always be aware of what may be beyond their intended target.

“Don’t get that target fixation in your mind,” Mertz adds. “When that bird’s there and flying, you’ve got to realize there’s something beyond that when you shoot. It might be another hunter, it might be a farmer, it could be anything else out there.”

Mertz adds that standing corn in many of the fields may also limit visibility and reminds hunters to always respect landowners’ property and ask permission before hunting on any private land. Pheasant hunting season runs through January 10, 2010; with shooting hours from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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