Tips to stay safe during hunting season

Anytime bullets are flying around, it’s a good idea to figure out how to avoid getting hit by one.

Of course, that’s just one of the ways that hunters can try to keep themselves safe during the hunting season this fall and winter.

But every year we hear stories about how hunters are injured or killed in one way or another. So don’t be one of those statistics.

Be safe with your guns

Long before you fire your first shot, you need to become completely familiar with your gun. Know how to load it and unload it, how to clean it, and how to carry it. And know what to expect when you pull the trigger.

Always assume that any gun you pick up is loaded, keeping it pointed in a safe direction. Keep your safety on until you’re ready to shoot.

Don’t touch the trigger unless you are planning to shoot. And be absolutely sure of your target – and what might be beyond it – before you pull the trigger.

Wear eye and ear protection when shooting a gun. Keep a first-aid kit close at hand. Also carry a flashlight and GPS device while hunting.

Practice, practice, practice. Spend many more hours in a shooting range than you do hunting in the woods.

Be safe in your tree stand

Some folks assume that getting shot is the most likely injury scenario for a hunter. But it’s not. The most common way for a hunter to get injured is by falling from a tree stand.

Don’t try to set up a tree stand by yourself. Install it and maintain it with someone else. Wear a full body harness properly when you’re in a tree stand. Use a rope to pull up your gun or bow.

Keep your cellphone in a pocket. Not in a bag you might not be able to reach if you are injured and need help.

Be safe with your clothing

All of your outer clothing above the waist needs to be blaze orange. This incudes the visible portion of your hat but excludes sleeves and gloves. Blaze orange includes a camouflage pattern that is one-half or more of blaze orange in each square foot.

It’s not just about color when it comes to clothing in the woods. You also need to stay warm to avoid hypothermia. So, dress in layers with a water-repellant outer layer.

Tips for non-hunters

Now, what about you folks who don’t hunt but enjoy spending time in the woods this time of year? Your safety is equally important. Learn where the hunting areas are and the dates for the hunting season. If you’re going to be in a hunting area during hunting season, here are a few ways to help you remain safe.

Always wear bright clothing

Hunters look for movement, and unless you’re planning to stay perfectly still for the entire time you’re in the woods, you need to be careful. Wear colors that will stand out against your surroundings. Such as red, orange and green. Avoid white, black, brown and earth-tone greens. As with hunters, bright orange is usually best.

Make human noises

If you believe hunters are in the area, talk, sing and even whistle as you’re walking about. Sound travels well in the woods and those types of noises will immediately identify you as a human. If you hear a shot, yell out to let hunters know where you are.

Protect your pets

If you have one or more dogs with you, provide them with orange vests as well. They are even more likely to be mistaken for game than you are. And don’t let them off a leash or they might wander off to a place where you can’t protect them as well.

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