Your Best Hunting Season
Are you someone who counts down the days until hunting season? Who longs to wake up on crisp, fall mornings and be the very first person to greet the new day? Before you head to the woods, be sure to prepare for another safe hunting season and avoid common mistakes.
Hunter Safety Courses
Most states require new hunters to complete a hunter safety course, especially if you’re under 16. In some states, the hunter must be at least 11 or 12 to take the course, so check your state’s laws for specifics.
These courses—covering topics such as how to appropriately use and clean hunting weapons, dress your game, and hunting safety rules – can last up to 10-15 hours, but are packed with amazingly helpful information to help you on the hunt.
With these tips, you can be confident that you and your friends will have a fun and safe time on your annual hunting trip.
- Practice shooting before hunting. Get to know your weapon and how to accurately aim it.
- Never point your muzzle at anything you don’t want to shoot. In other words, always point your firearm in a safe direction – down isn’t recommended when you’re with others or if the ground is rocky. Safe handling should be second nature before you head out on the hunt.
- Your hunting range is the 45-degree angle directly in front of you. If you’re hunting in a group, communicate with each other to make sure you’re a safe distance from each other.
- Never shoot until you’re sure what you’re shooting at and what’s beyond it.
- Stay calm. It’s easy to get excited when big game crosses your path. It’s a good time to take a breath and think before pulling the trigger.
- Unload your gun or rifle whenever it’s not in use. But remember the adage “There’s no such thing as an unloaded gun,” and treat every gun as if it’s loaded, even if you’re told it’s not.
- Keep your finger outside the trigger area unless you’re shooting.
- Engage the safety, but handle the gun as if you didn’t have it on.
- Wear eye and ear protection when shooting.
- To avoid accidental fires, use ammunition that isn’t steel-jacketed and doesn’t have steel-core components or tracer rounds.
Stay Safe on the Hunt
- Wear blaze orange above your waist and on your head so other hunters can see you, even if not required by law. In many states, you’re required to wear a certain amount of blaze orange—not camouflage with orange on it—during most hunting seasons. Don’t worry about the deer seeing you! They don’t see blaze orange the same way humans do. They use their sense of smell and recognize the outline of a human.
- If you take a dog with you, make sure he or she also wears blaze orange as an added layer of protection.
- Put a map of your hunting area on your smart phone or in your pocket. Scout it before hunting season so you know it well.
- Tell someone where you’ll be hunting, and when you’ll return (you might leave a map for them as well).
- Carry a first aid kit and refresh your CPR skills before heading out.
- If you use a tree stand, secure it before getting in. Secure yourself in the stand in case you fall asleep or slip.
- Never carry your weapon while climbing. Use a haul line to raise or lower the unloaded weapon to you.
- Be sure to keep celebratory drinks at camp. Don’t drink while hunting or hunt with others who have been drinking.
- Wear a watch or keep an eye on your smartphone clock so you’re only hunting during legal hours.