Hunting is a great sport when treated with compassion and cunning, however; smarts, strength, and common sense are necessary for success. Every type of hunting allows almost any age group (newborn and extreme old age must be given extraordinary consideration)
Certain fundamental aspects of each trip should be carried out, no matter the circumstances or game. Safety needs to be at the top of every pre-hunt checklist.
Several factors weigh in on having a safe weekend camping with family or deer hunting with friends. Most newcomers to the sport of hunting realize rather quickly it is not only gun safety to be concerned with. It’s the right hunting gear and preparation checklists that are key.
Additional Safety Factors To Consider (dependent on the length of trip, weather, hunting area, and so on)
- Weather conditions: Is the area prone to fast-moving, violent storms?
- How dense and possibly treacherous are the trails and specific areas?
- How cold will it be at night?
- How much garment layering will I need?
- How much weight will I be carrying?
There are a few basic tenets of hunting safety every hunter, regardless of age, must follow, or we are all in danger. If a single hunter or any group member carries firearms, there are four basic rules to follow. No matter what list you decide to go by, these rules are always the same.
- Always treat your firearm as if it were loaded. Creating a habit of safety is a learned response that takes time. To have the mark of an experienced gun handler, never assume a firearm is unloaded, always open the action, and check the chamber, receiver, or magazine for yourself. Firearms should only be loaded when the hunter is ready to shoot in the field, on a shooting range, or anywhere designed for firearms. Keep the action open when hunting or in other areas designed for firearms.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. Another habit of safety; accidents can and will happen when a family or group of friends get together to have fun in unfamiliar environments. Keeping cuts and bruises to a minimum makes for a safe trip. Remember to keep your fingers away from the trigger guard and trigger. Never pull the trigger of a firearm with the safety latch between safe and fire mode. The firearm can fire even after the safety is removed, without the trigger being touched again.
- Always point the muzzle of your firearm in a safe direction, which is always away from other people. Everyone has heard the phrase, never point a firearm at anything you do not intend to shoot, and it is never more true than on every hunting trip. Even if your firearm does happen to be discharged accidentally, if the muzzle is always pointed in a safe direction, no injuries are possible. Start this habit when going in the field for the first time; know exactly where the safe direction is to point the muzzle.
- Always be sure of the target and what lies beyond. Another mark of excellence for a hunter; never firing until you are confident of hitting an exact spot. For the novice deer hunter, take the broadside shot whenever possible; it is usually the largest target area. Consider also that a light-grained .22 short bullet can travel over 1 ¼ miles. High-grained cartridges, such as a 30-06, can send its bullet over three miles. Another consideration is the chance of a ricochet; a grouping of rocks or similar objects can send a bullet flying in any direction.
Make a habit of the above rules from the moment you first plan the trip, and most hunting accidents are eliminated. The pure enjoyment of a safe trip is just one of the many benefits a hunter enjoys. Any hunting trip marred by a gun can change lives, so starting early and creating safe habits is just better.
Successful hunts usually involve overnight camping in unfamiliar or dense hunting areas. These environments are primed for accidents of any kind, not just firearms. Hiking deep into unknown territory, no matter the preparedness level, safety should be meaningful.
Finding yourself in a freak thunderstorm can make for dangerous circumstances; being over-prepared is an excellent habit to get into. Just as there are four solid firearm safety rules, there are guidelines for newcomers and seasoned pros alike. Responsible behavior includes respect for others and wildlife.
- Never leave on a hunting trip without creating a plan and giving it to a responsible person. If your plan does not include a return window, cell number, and phone carrier, it’s useless. Law enforcement can work with a carrier to locate a position. The hunter’s attitude should be committed to a set of safety rules at all times.
- Hunting gear should include a compass and a map of where you plan to hunt on your cell phone. Orient yourself before leaving camp or the transport vehicle. Finding your way around your camping area is a skill that is made better with modern technology.
- Don’t panic if you become lost. When a family or friends head to the woods for hunting, expect the unexpected and be prepared. Whenever you head away from the group alone, try to remember a few things; a compass more than any other piece of equipment. Food, cell phone, and appropriate clothing are vital on any trip outside the camp.
There are several safety rules to follow depending on the number in the group. Seasoned pros generally know these guidelines as their experiences grow.
- Don’t hunt alone, ever!
- Take a bit of food and water whenever leaving the camp, Commonsense!
- Return to the camp before dark!
- Never leave camp without matches and a foil blanket!
- Always look out for each other and know where others in the group are supposed to be.