Hunting can be a terrific way to spend quality time in the great outdoors and put food on the table. It can also be dangerous if hunters and others in the area fail to follow some basic safety precautions. Having the best rifle and rangefinder and all the patience in the world aren’t enough to protect you and others from accidents that can turn a weekend getaway into a nightmare. Below, we’ll take a look at some essential safety precautions all hunters (and others who frequent hunting grounds) would do well to keep in mind.
Whether you’re a hiker, biker, hunter, birdwatcher, camper, or anybody else who likes to spend time in the woods, it’s critical to know the posted hunting areas and seasons where you live. Most folks understand that hunting out of season can result in major fines, or even getting arrested. Non-hunters, though, should be aware of these seasons, too. You want to be sure that you know when you might expect armed hunters to be perched in blinds or crouched in the bushes in your favorite hiking spots. As always, being very aware of your surroundings is the best way to keep yourself and others safe.
Many hunters believe that camouflage clothing is essential hunting gear. In actuality, most game animals (including deer, pigs, elk, antelope, sheep, and goats) don’t see colors the same way that humans do. These animals really only see colors as blues and greens. They can’t even distinguish between shades of these colors. One of the reasons that bright orange has become a standard hunter-safety color is that most prey, including deer, can’t distinguish it from other colors. In other words, blending in with the scenery has no affect on how your prey sees you, but can make it harder for other hunters to spot you. Animals are much more likely to be alerted to your presence by your scent or by sudden movements. So, in the interest of making yourself visible to fellow hunters and to make it easier for others to find you in the event you get lost or injured, be sure to wear at least one brightly-colored article of clothing. While you’re at it, don’t forget to make sure your dog has his own splash of color. You can opt for a bandana or even a hunting vest designed for dogs (yes, they make those).
If you’re making your way through a hunting ground and hear or see a hunter nearby, it’s advisable to let your presence be known by either whistling or calling out. You don’t want to make more noise than is necessary, but you also want to make sure hunters know that someone else is in the area. If you hear a shot that seems to have come from very nearby, make sure you clearly announce yourself and wait for a response.
In addition to wearing brightly-colored clothing, carrying a whistle or air horn can be an excellent way to make sure you are rescued in the event you get lost or injured badly enough that you can’t walk. A loud whistle or horn will be more likely to bring help than firing your rifle in a hunting area.
In addition to the above, all hunters should always remember basic safety rules taught in hunter and gun safety classes everywhere. Staying safe really is too easy to not be priority number one.