This month and the next, thousands of the world’s best conservationists will take to the woods or fields. Statistically, hunting is safer than your daily, work commute, but we must take time to review important safety reminders. Here are some hunting safety tips that have served me well over the years, and I’ve worked hard to pass these on to my son and other youth:
- Inspect your gun or bow to make sure it’s in proper working order.
- Always treat a gun as if it’s loaded. Be mindful of where you point the muzzle and continuously maintain positive control of your weapon (this includes bows or crossbows). Enable your gun’s safety, but don’t trust it as a fail-safe measure.
- Be aware of your surroundings, property boundaries, a nearby residence and where other hunters might be located.
- Let your spouse or someone know where you are hunting and your expected return time.
- Use factory-made, certified deer stands. Always wear some type of fall protection when hunting from a stand.
- Carry the essentials: food, water, knife, emergency blanket, first aide kit, fire starter and don’t forget the cell phone.
- In some places, you’ll need to watch the ground for venomous snakes. Inspect your ground blinds for critters who may have taken refuge there: snakes, yellow jackets, ants, wasps, or spiders.
- If needed, spray your clothing to ward off chiggers, tics or other biting insects.
- Always wear your orange safety vest and never shoot at something until it’s fully identified as your intended quarry.
- During my dawn/dusk walk to the stand, I like to use a flashlight that has green light. This lets other hunters know that I’m human, and it reveals my location relative to them. The green light will not spook game.
- Remember, trips, slips and falls are the safety hazards people face the most and that applies anywhere you go—including the woods.
- Depending upon the type of shooting you will be doing, carry ear plugs and safety glasses.
- If something does happen, don’t panic. Keep your head and follow your survival training. If you follow the preceding tips, chances are you’ll be fine and someone will come to your aide.
Observe and obey your state’s hunting laws and regulations and enjoy a pleasant hunt. Of course, I probably have forgotten something that needs to be on the above list. If you have any additional ideas please leave a comment.