Hunting seasons for white-tailed deer and duck are just about to kick off for the year, and many are excited to head out. Before doing so, it is always important to consider how to best handle safety while on trips.
The International Hunter Education Association reports that there are about 1,000 hunting accidents between US and Canada a year. This is a relatively low number when you consider the millions of hunting license holders- but it is still a good practice to take the steps necessary to prevent accidents as much as possible.
Nathaniel Whittle of Texas is a hunting enthusiast and recognizes that proper safety helps hunters enjoy the sport to the fullest. Here, he explores a few crucial tips to ensure safe hunting experiences all season long.
Let Someone Know Where You Are Headed
An important tip for any outdoor endeavor is to always let someone know where you will be heading and when they can expect you back. Even the most knowledgeable and safety-oriented individuals can run into unforeseen events on their travels.
Inclement weather, injury, or becoming lost while on a hunting trip can present significant safety risks. Making sure that you bring a phone with you on a trip and a portable charger can help make an all-important call if you are lost or injured, but phones can break, or you may end up in an area without service.
Telling a close friend or family member where you will be is one of the easiest ways to ensure a safe return regardless of what unforeseen circumstances may impact your trip.
Follow Proper Gun Safety Precautions
One of the easiest ways to keep yourself and others safe while out on hunting trips is to always follow proper gun safety precautions.
There are four commonly taught gun and bow safety rules that will best suit you on your trips and they are: treat every gun as if it though it were loaded, identify what is before and beyond your target before shooting, practice trigger discipline by keeping fingers away from the trigger except when ready to fire, and be sure to always point the muzzle of a firearm in a safe direction.
While the four gun safety rules encompass a lot of ways to be safe, Nathaniel Whittle recognizes that there are other tips that hunters will want to remember as well. For example, hunters should unload guns and open the action when the firearm is not in use, never jump or climb with a loaded gun, store both guns and ammo safely and securely, and never shoot at hard, flat surfaces or water.
Safety courses are required to receive a hunting license, but refreshers are a great way to ensure that you are being as safe as possible even as a well-established hunter.
Dress for the Occasion
Wearing the right clothing for the occasion is important when out hunting. This is because blending into the environment can be dangerous as your presence may not be noticed by other hunters. Even in the quietest locations, you can never be certain of who is out there- you always want to be visible!
On public hunting lands, hunters need to wear at least 400 square inches of highly visible material such as hunter with at least 144 square inches on the chest and back. This makes hunters very visible to others and helps prevent accidents.
Blaze orange- otherwise known as hunter orange- keeps hunters highly visible to others
Dressing properly also extends to what you wear. This can depend on the weather where you are hunting, as you do not want to be too hot or too cold while out on a trip.
Hypothermia can occur at warmer temperatures than one would think. Since hunting season kicks off in November and hunting trips tend to start early in the day, hunters should always come dressed for the temperature and weather.
Hunters also will typically dress animals that are accompanying them on trips in bright colors as well as it helps prevent them being mistaken as game. Keeping an orange vest on your dog will keep them visible and safe from other hunters nearby.
Consider Your Hunting Pack Essentials
Even for short trips, it is always a great idea to keep a hunting pack that is filled with everything you may need.
Some common essentials for a short hunting trip include rain gear, water, a quality utility knife, trash and game bags, snacks, a first-aid kit, binoculars, a quick-dry towel, flashlight, phone, safety harness, and portable charger.
Packing the right items for your trip not only makes you a more efficient hunter, but it is also crucial for keeping you safe in the event of an emergency. Nathaniel Whittle recommends exploring resources for hunters that make suggestions for what to bring based on factors such as the length of your trip and the game you will be hunting.
Know the Risks if Hunting Alone
Some hunters enjoy venturing out alone, as it means that they won’t need to share game or ammunition. Still, it is very important to know the risks of solo hunting.
One of the most cited dangers of hunting alone is that you will be on your own if you happen to get injured on your trip. A simple injury such as a twisted ankle or sprain can become a life-threatening situation if certain circumstances line up.
Nathaniel Whittle mentions that individuals who are going on solo hunting trips should always take precautions to ensure a safe return. This includes knowing potential local predators to look out for depending on the area, bringing a cellphone and satellite phone if you have one, and always communicating your route to others.
Even people who usually prefer solo trips may want to consider teaming up with at least one friend depending on the circumstances. For example, hunting with a partner may be ideal if you are venturing into unfamiliar terrain. It can be much safer and easier to navigate through an area that is new to you if you have support.
Stay Aware and Stay Safe This Hunting Season
There are many different rules to keep in mind to stay safe this hunting season. According to Nathaniel, the best way to keep yourself and others protected is to brush up on hunting laws and tips from fellow hunters. This information is tailored with safety and efficiency in mind.
Staying alert and aware in all situations throughout the hunting season is essential to prevent accidents as well. Be proactive and you will have everything necessary for a safe hunting season!