MINOT, N.D. (KXNET) — North Dakota’s deer gun season is opening up this Friday, and the state’s Game and Fish Department has some reminders to help you stay safe on the thin ice that coats some of the state’s most popular hunting areas.

Officials say that just because deer can walk on thin ice, does not mean hunters should. This time of year, it’s especially important to be careful — especially when one remembers an area simply getting a lot of snow does not guarantee that rivers or layers will have thicker sheets of ice.

“When we had that snow that fell in the Minot,” explains Assistant Wildlife Chief Bill Haase, “we had over one foot of snow — but the ground wasn’t frozen at the time, and neither were a lot of the wetlands. We did have some snow after that., and any snow we do get insulates that ice, which prevents it from getting thicker.”

Game and Fish officials say that the darker the ice, the thinner it is — but even taking this into consideration, there are still many things an individual can do to ensure they’re safe during the winter. These include keeping your cell phone, along with a change of warm clothes, with you at all times in case you do fall through the ice.