Just to give you a little background, I've been hunting for over 30 years. These are the rules I follow to stay safe in the field:
General Hunting Safety Tips
- Always let someone know where you are hunting and when you plan on returning.
- If you can, avoid hunting alone. If you hunt alone, be extra careful and hunt in familiar areas.
- Make sure to be familiar with the area, or at least have a topo map and compass to help you find your way, should you become disoriented.
- Dress properly and be prepared for the worst possible conditions.
- Check the weather forecast before going into the woods.
- Check all equipment before and after each outing, and maintain it properly. Familiarize yourself with any new equipment before using it in the field.
- Carry a flashlight while walking through the hunting area before or after daylight.
- When hunting, wear daylight fluorescent orange, so you can be seen from a distance or in heavy cover. If you do wear camo, consider at least wearing a daylight orange hat or arm band.
Firearm Hunting Safety Tips
- Treat every firearm as if it is loaded. Every time you pick up a firearm, before doing anything else, check to see if it's loaded. Be sure the chamber and magazine are empty and that the action is open until you're ready to fire. If you don't know how to determine if it is loaded, do not accept the firearm until someone has safely shown you that it is unloaded. Read your instruction manual carefully before you handle new firearms
- Always point the muzzle in a safe direction. Do not point a firearm at anything you do not intend to shoot.
- Be certain of what you are shooting at, and what's beyond it. Know the safe carries when there are persons to your sides, in front of, or behind you. Being 99.9 percent sure isn't good enough. Make absolutely sure of what you are shooting at and beyond, before pulling the trigger.
- Never shoot at any movement in brush.
- Keep your finger outside the trigger guard and off the trigger until ready to shoot.
- Never cross a fence, ride a 4-wheeler or climb a tree with a loaded rifle. Never jump a ditch or cross difficult terrain with a loaded firearm.
- Never carry a loaded rifle in your truck or car, and be sure to unload your rifle when you get back to camp or when you stop hunting for the day. Assume that every rifle in camp is loaded unless the action is open and you can see that it's safe to handle.
- Control your emotions when it comes to safety. If you lose control of your emotions, you may do something carelessly. Show restraint and pass up shots which have the slightest chance of being unsafe.
- Don't drink alcohol while handling firearms.
In the Tree-Stand Hunting Safety Tips
- Always wear a safety harness when hunting from a tree-stand. Each season, hunters are injured, some seriously, when they fall asleep and take a dive off their trees-stands, or slip and fall when climbing in or out of the tree.
- Be familiar with the workings of the stand before you go to the woods. Before using manufactured stands, always read the instructions and warnings.
- You should choose a mature tree to setup your stand in. Don't use a tree that is rotten or has dead limbs that may fall on the stand.
- If the weather turns bad, return to the ground. High winds make stands unstable.
- Use a tow rope to pull your rifle up and down from your tree-stand. Never climb in or out of the stand while holding a firearm, even an unloaded one.
Downed Game Hunting Safety Tips
- Mark all downed game with colorful flagging, an article of clothing or material. When field dressing or transporting a recently-killed animal, always wrap safety flagging, such a brightly colored scarf or shirt, around the animal's head or body. This action ensures that the animal will not be mistaken for a live animal while you are field dressing or carrying the animal.
- To drag a deer out of the woods, tie one end of a 5-foot piece of rope around the base of the antlers and the other end around the center of a 2-foot-long dried stick about 2 inches thick. Extend your arms behind you and grasp the stick with both hands. As you walk away in this position you will be pulling the deer forward without lifting any of its weight. Two people can share the task by grasping opposite ends of the stick with one hand each, pulling shoulder to shoulder.
Hunting Safety Gear
- First aid kit
- Plenty of food and water
- Cell phone
- Sharp hunting knife
- Flashlight with fresh batteries
- Map of the area and compass
- Emergency blanket
Last but not least, always use common sense and never take unnecessary chances. Have a safe and fun hunting season!
Learn more in our Hunting Gear Buying Guide.
-The Gear Doctor, Kevin Landweher
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