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Ah, hunting season: finally a reason to get up early that doesn’t involve going to work! There’s nothing like a battle of wits against some wily prey, and bagging a big buck can fill you with pride (and tasty venison) like nothing else. But the season also brings more than its fair share of hunting-related accidents and injuries as well.
Here are the best hunting season safety tips for staying out of harm’s way while you’re in that tree stand waiting for your shot.
Know Your State’s Laws
Before you plan a weekend of hunting, make sure you know the laws. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has a page devoted to hunting and to hunters which provides links to every state. In particular, it’s important to understand whether you need a license, whether you’re required to wear “hunter orange”, where you can hunt, what you’re allowed to hunt and what weapon you’re allowed to use to hunt. Many states have free apps that can be downloaded that provide information at your fingertips.
Safety Is Key
Whether you’re using a type of bow or a firearm, safety is key.
Archery & Bowhunting Safety
Knowing the four primary rules of firearm safety while hunting will help ensure you have a safe hunt. According to Hunter-Ed.com, the four primary rules are:
The phrase “it’s unloaded” should never pass your lips and should never be trusted from someone else’s. Unless you are preparing to shoot, your first action with any firearm in all situations should be to point the muzzle in a safe direction, check the chamber, and clear the firearm.
It might help to think of the muzzle as a laser pointer—and everything it points toward is in danger. Never let the muzzle cover anything you’re not willing to destroy. Regarding the “safe direction”: don’t forget the possibility of a ricochet!
The best way to prevent accidental discharge is to keep your trigger finger indexed along the frame of the firearm until your sights are on the target. Do not place your finger inside the trigger guard until you’re ready to pull the trigger.
Know the identifying features of the game you hunt. If you pull the trigger, you cannot take back the bullet! Everything and everyone in front of, near, and beyond your target is your responsibility. Make sure you have an adequate backstop and never shoot at a flat, hard surface or water.
Stay Visible to Other Hunters at All Times
High visibility clothing in either hunter or blaze orange or pink exist for a reason. Neither color occurs in nature, and wearing it is the best way to signal to other hunters that no, you aren’t a prize buck rooting around in the bushes. Wearing high visibility pink or orange is also the law in many states.
Keeping yourself from being mistaken for quarry goes further than that, however; in addition to wearing orange or pink you need to take extra precautions when passing other hunter camps during dusk or at night. Keep your flashlight out and lit to show your location. Also, don’t wear any white clothing, like a tee-shirt, which can all too easily be confused for a deer at a distance.
While hunting safety often revolves around avoiding getting shot, there are other issues to think about such as getting into and out of your treestand safely. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, here are the four basic rules of treestand safety.
Another thing to consider is making sure someone knows where you’re going to be and how long you expect to be gone. That way, if you don’t make it home on time, someone will know to look for you.
Don’t take chances with accident or injury this hunting season, not when you can avoid them with just a bit of effort on your part. Even the most skilled and experienced hunters can run into trouble when they’re out in the great outdoors. That’s why following the most basic of hunting season safety tips, which include the proper handling of firearms and other weaponry, ensuring you have high-visibility gear, and taking steps to ensure the word gets put out if you don’t come back in time are all crucial in keeping you — and everyone else — safe.
Katy Lyden is a EHS Domain Analyst and Subject Matter Expert for StarTex Software, the company behind EHS Insight. Prior to her current role, Katy spent 17 years successfully leading EHS programs for several large companies within the manufacturing industry. Katy is a Navy veteran, Licensed Emergency Medical...
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