Mr. Sports: What happened to hunter safety?

By Bob Labbe
By Bob Labbe

We’re right in the midst of the hunting season and I ask the question, what happened to hunter safety?

In two separate incidents just after the New Year, two hunters were killed while hunting and neither were wearing the mandatory orange safety reflective clothing. One of the hunters was shot and killed by another hunter who was in a tree stand while the second person killed, from nearby Arab, was part of a group of hunters. One member of the group shot his fellow hunter to death. Both incidents on Jan. 12 are believed to be accidents.

To add insult to those two deaths, a third man was shot to death on Jan. 4 while in his shooting house. A stray bullet is believed to have hit that hunter while he was sitting in his chair in the shooting house.

In the 2012-2013 hunting season, there were 34 total incidents in Alabama, with five of those resulting in deaths. One hunter fell to their death out of a treestand, two were self-inflicted accidents and two more were killed in a two-party situation such as careless handling or mistaken for game.

The Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries recommends all hunters to abide by the basic hunter safety rules and those born on or after Aug. 1, 1977 must complete a hunter education course. Those courses have been available throughout our area in recent months and there are two courses still on the books for March. In Morgan County, a course is scheduled for March 1 at the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge in Decatur while on March 8, the Madison County Tech School on Jordan Road in Huntsville is hosting a course.

To obtain details, visit

Huntsville Havoc

Our hockey team is currently in a three-way tie atop the Southern Professional Hockey League. The Havoc is atop the standings with the Mississippi River Kings and the Pensacola Ice Flyers. This weekend, the Havoc play host to Columbus on Friday night and the Mississippi Surge on Saturday night. On Friday, it’s the “FANtastic Friday Zombie Night” with fans urged to dress up as zombies for some great prizes. On Saturday, “Adult Jersey Night” is the promotion.

Both matches begin at 7:30 p.m.

National Finals Rodeo

Next weekend (Jan. 31 and Feb. 1) the crews at the VBC will make a little magic occur as they will somehow get rid of the ice on the arena floor and make way for dirt…yes, dirt. The 2nd Annual Sheriff’s Lone Star National Finals Rodeo will make its way into the confines of the VBC arena as the top 10 cowboys and cowgirls in eight different events will bust their broncs to be named national champion. Competition will be held over the two nights in Bare Back Riding, Calf Roping, Barrel Racing, Bull Riding, Team Roping, Steer Wrestling, Cowgirl Breakaway Roping and Saddle Bronc Riding.

Madison County Sheriff Blake Dorning is the official host for the National Champion event, which is a huge fundraiser for the Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) and the Army Emergency Relief Fund. On Friday (Jan. 31), it will be First Responders Night with a $2 discount on tickets for emergency responders. On Saturday (Feb. 1), the same discount will be given to all active and retired military.

Last year’s event was wonderful with the action non-stop in the championship finals featuring the top 10 contenders in each event; The Best of the Best. Check it out. The rodeo is always great family entertainment.


The Conference Championship games last Sunday were certainly hyped enough and only one of the two games lived up to the pre-game smack. The Seahawks outlasted the 49ers in what I thought was one of the worst officiated games I’ve seen in some time. Unusual calls throughout the game on both teams were abundant. Seattle defeated San Francisco to advance to the Feb. 2nd Super Bowl.

Meanwhile, the highly anticipated shootout between the two best quarterbacks in the NFL never materialized as Peyton Manning led the Denver Broncos to an easy win over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. By the fourth quarter of the game I couldn’t wait to change the TV channel to the west coast game.
So, at 5:30 p.m. (Channel 54) on Sunday, Feb. 2nd, Denver will face Seattle in the Super Bowl. I’ll have more on the game next week.