What Are the Safety Guidelines for Hunting?

what-are-the-safety-guidelines-for-hunting

While hunting might utilize weapons such as firearms and powerful bows and arrows, hunting is considered to be relatively safe, where only a few injuries occur for every 100,000 hunters. But the reason why I am emphasizing the safety of hunting is because there are a lot of fatalities during hunting that could have been avoided.

So what are the safety guidelines for hunting? While there might not be strict guidelines that every hunter follows, there are some rules and guidelines that every hunter should be aware of. So I will compile a list of hunting etiquette that you should be aware of right in time for the hunting season to begin. So let’s have a look at some of the safety guidelines for hunting!

Key Takeaways

  • There are many safety guidelines you will need to know about so that you and other hunters around you are safe during the hunt.
  • Even before you head out for your hunt, there are some things that you can do to ensure that your hunt is as safe as possible.
  • When you are on a hunting stand, it is essential to know about safety tips for it so you can climb up and down without harming yourself.
  • Always remember, you can never be too prepared for a hunt. Expect the unexpected and be ready for any situation that is presented to you.

15 Safety Guidelines to Follow for Hunting

There are no real categories to follow for safety in hunting. That is why I will be procuring a list of all the necessary safety guidelines that you should follow for your next hunting trip. From trigger discipline to hunting with your buddies, here are 15 safety guidelines that you should follow for hunting!

1. Pointing muzzle in the right direction

Always remember to point your muzzle at what you are going to be shooting at and not anything else. The moment you shoot is very small and it is crucial to get your shot off when it is necessary otherwise you might lose your prey for the day (or a few days as well!). Having the muzzle of your rifle pointed in the right direction is key to ensuring your safety and the safety of other hunters as well!

pointing-muzzle-in-the-right-direction
Pointing muzzle in the right direction

2. Treating your weapon with respect

Often times we forget the power that is within our hand when we have it out and how dangerous carelessness is during hunting. That is why it is important to treat your weapon with respect. This means treating it as if it is always loaded. Whether you have an unloaded gun or a nocked and drawn bow, always treat it like it is able to do damage whenever. That way, you are ensuring that you can be a lot safer.

treating-your-weapon-with-respect
Treating your weapon with respect

3. Staying calm when there are sounds and movements

When I was starting out my hunting journey, there were times I was spooked by the slightest sounds in the dead silence of the forest. Now imagine if I had a loaded gun at that point and aimed to shoot at the sound or movement in the bushes. It could cause a catastrophe! That is why stay calm whenever there is a sound or movement nearby. Investigate first before drawing your weapon so that you ensure safety. A prey will run away from you while a predator will warn you from coming closer. So learn to understand what type of sound it is to make sure that you are safe.

staying-calm-when-there-are-sounds-and-movements
Staying calm when there are sounds and movements

4. Identify your target properly

Never trust your ears or a glimpse of something and shoot at it. The only thing that you should be shooting at is a target that you properly identified and made sure that it is your target. This will significantly reduce the chances of shooting your hunting target and make sure that you are shooting at the intended target instead. Always confirm first before even having the finger on the trigger.

5. Target and beyond

Not only are you supposed to be aware of your target, but you should also be aware of what is beyond the target as well. If you are hunting alone, then you have to be aware that there might be other hunters in the area. So always make sure that you identify your target properly and only then should you aim at it. Aiming at your target limits your overall vision as you are concentrated on the game. That is why make sure of everything before targeting your game.

target-and-beyond
Target and beyond

6. Unloading your weapon during downtime

I cannot stress enough the times I have watched and warned other hunters on a hunting trip to not have loaded guns unless absolutely necessary! For at least 90% of the hunt, you will be moving around and scouting the location of the game. For this 90%, you won’t have much use for your gun at all! That is why you should have your gun and bow unloaded during these downtimes so there are no accidental discharges of your weapon. This is especially important when you are crossing difficult terrains like rocky areas, climbing up the ladder of your hunting stand, or traveling across a creek! There are many places that you will see during hunting so always scout the area with unloaded weapons.

unloading-your-weapon-during-downtime
Unloading your weapon during downtime

7. No horseplay with firearms

Just like you have to respect your weapon as if it is always loaded, you should never play around with your firearms. This is especially important for younger and beginner hunters who tend to show off their new weapons and wave them around. So make sure that there is no horseplay with firearms or bows and that you are treating the weapon with the utmost respect. Don’t show off your guns, instead show off your successful hunt. That will definitely garner more respect from your peers than being careless with your weapons.

no-horseplay-with-firearms
No horseplay with firearms

8. Right clothing

Always dress for the part. This means wearing the right clothes. Camo clothes might be good but animals will notice movement even when you are in camouflage. But you know a color that animals like deer rarely notice? Bright orange vests! If you ever wondered why this is the case, it is because animals can’t see the orange properly. This puts you as a hunter in a distinct advantage where you know where other hunters are and the animals don’t have a clue where you are! So wear the right clothes for your hunt and pack extra clothes just in case the clothes you have on become stinky. Animals like deer have a more acute sense of smell than even most dogs so having the right clothing will increase your chances of a likely hunt and ensure your safety.

right-clothing
Right clothing

9. Protective gear

Along with the right clothing comes the protective gear that you need for a hunt. This means ears and eye protection. Guns are very loud which is why you are supposed to wear earbuds and protective goggles in the shooting range. The same thing applies when you are out hunting. When you have identified your game, wear your earbuds before shooting to help protect your ears. The recoil and discharge of the shell casing of the bullet might fly into your face so make sure to wear goggles to keep your eyes safe, just in case.

protective-gear
Protective gear

10. Knowing safety zones

Knowing the boundary of where you are hunting is very important, especially if you are hunting on private properties. There are certain places where you are supposed to be hunting while other areas are restricted because they have large predators like bears in those areas or they are very difficult terrain to travel on. That is why you should know the general location of where these areas so you know you are in the safety zones and away from dangerous parts of the woods. Be on the lookout for signs which will tell you of dangerous areas as a hunting area will definitely have those to help hunters remain safe.

knowing-safety-zones
Knowing safety zones

11. Know where your hunting buddies are

Just like you have to know where the safe zones are, you have to know where your hunting buddies are at all times. You might be in a group of 3 or 10, but it is crucial to know where your hunting buddies are so you don’t accidentally shoot them or at them. Make sure to be 30 to 40 yards away from each other at more than 45o. That way you can make sure that you are hunting far enough to not cause harm but still within a safe distance to effectively communicate with each other.

know-where-your-hunting-buddies-are
Know where your hunting buddies are

12. Controlling emotion

Emotions fly high during serious and intense situations. Your emotions between calm and anger are on a knife’s edge and anything could set it off. From an unsuccessful shot to a successful one, you should always keep your emotions in check because even if you land a perfect shot the hunt is not over. Be calm and make sure to go after your prey after waiting for a bit. Always remember that hunting is a game of patience and that patience extends even after you are done hunting! So remain calm and focused until you are heading back home with your successful hunt.

controlling-emotion
Controlling emotion

13. Staying sober

There are no bad manners worse than hunting with someone who is inebriated. Consumption of alcohol and drugs right before using a dangerous firearm is absolutely no! You are putting yourself at risk and everyone in the hunting area as well. Being sober means that your mind is sharp and quick to react to changes in the environment with clear judgment. If you are reported drunk on a hunt by someone else, you could very well risk losing your hunting license forever!

staying-sober
Staying sober

14. Trigger discipline

Fingers are always away from the trigger: that is something that you should follow at all times. Only when you have 100% confirmed your target and have your aim steady on the target should you have your fingers on the trigger ready to shoot. Trigger discipline is very important and you should follow it at all times to make sure that you and your other hunters are safe. 

15. Checking for injuries

It is almost impossible to avoid falls during your time hunting. These could be minor falls or even major falls due to uneven grounds but they could lead to life-threatening injuries! That is why you should make sure to check your injuries periodically after you have gotten hurt somewhere so that you are keeping yourself protected. Remember, the forest is unforgiving to those that are not in the best shape. So always check yourself to make sure you are in tip-top shape. If you have suffered a head injury, you MUST follow up with a doctor for concussion. Never take chances on a head injury under any circumstances!

checking-for-injuries
Checking for injuries

Even with these safety guidelines, I can guarantee that there will be something that you don’t plan for and it causes an accident to happen. That is the life of a hunter and something that you should be aware of. These safety guidelines I have placed are meant to ensure that you are avoiding mistakes and keeping yourself as safe as possible during a hunt. Your safety should always be the top priority, even if your most prized hunt is right there for the taking.

Safety Guidelines Before Going Hunting

The safety in hunting starts even before you go out to hunt. Here are some safety guidelines to ensure that you are the most prepared possible for a hunt. 

safety-guidelines-before-going-hunting
Safety guidelines before going hunting

Let people know you are out hunting

This is a must! An absolutely crucial detail for anyone going out for a hunting trip is to make sure that you tell your loved ones where you are going and how long you will be gone. In the case of a serious accident, at least you have people on the outside who know that you are in danger and they can be in contact with local authorities to help rescue you if needs be. You can never be too careful and this is my greatest advice to you!

Checking your equipment

The last thing you want on your hunting trip is to have a malfunction on one of your equipment. That is why you should always check and double-check your equipment before heading out on a hunting trip. That way, you know that your equipment has a good chance of surviving this hunting trip. Sometimes, your equipment might fail on your regardless. But that is why it is good to check on your equipment so you know to bring extra if necessary.

Ready effective communication devices

There is nothing scarier than being out all alone on your hunting trip or you have gotten lost from your hunting buddies. In the forest, reception will be low so your cellphone might not be effective. That is why you should always have a radio with enough batteries for effective communication. Also, always carry a loud whistle with you. In case of an emergency, you can ring it to let other hunters in the area know that you are in trouble.

Learning basic first aid

Learning the basics of first aid might save you in a life-threatening situation. Learning to take care of cuts and wounds and applying first aid can be life-saving! That is why you should always carry a first aid kit with you on your hunting trip so that you are prepared for such a situation when it arises.

Weather forecast and understanding of hunting location

Even before going out on the hunt, always check out the weather forecast and know of the general landmarks in your location. That way you can be prepared for when you are lost or postpone your hunting trip in case there is bad weather coming to your hunting location. This is also why you should carry a map of the area so that you know where you are or at least know the general location of where you are.

Emergency food, clothes, and rations

Remember, you can never be under-prepared for a hunting trip. Having emergency food and rations can be a lifesaver if you are ever in a situation where you are stranded. Clothes are just as important as well! So remember to pack everything you need and make enough space for emergencies.

You can never be too careful so make sure that you prepared for the hunting trip as much as possible!

Safety Tips When Hunting from a Hunting Stand

You might have noticed people hunting from a hunting stand. There are some safety guidelines that you should know about so you are hunting as safely as possible from a hunting stand.

  • Properly secure your stand so it does not fall off
  • Read warnings from manufacturers about the hunting stand and how much weight it can carry
  • Always wear your safety harness when you are on the hunting stand
  • Climb into the hunting stand with your guns unloaded
  • Use haul lines to safely transport your equipment from the ground to the hunting stand and vice versa
  • After setting your hunting stand, test it out so it does not shake too much while you are on it
  • Make sure that your hunting stand is not more than 15 feet above the ground
  • Don’t use a permanent hunting stand from a past season, you never know how damaged it could be

Always make sure that you are safe on a hunting stand and follow the other guidelines along with these tips to make sure that you are safely hunting from one.

FAQs

1. What is the first rule of gun safety?

Always have your gun pointed in a safe direction, away from others and yourself, even if the gun is not loaded.

2. How long are hunting trips?

Hunting trips can be anywhere from a few hours at dawn to a few days. That is why it is important to make sure that you are prepared for any duration of hunting.

3. What are the main causes of hunting accidents?

Use of alcohol and drugs and mistakenly shooting at a person thinking they are game are two of the most common hunting accidents that could occur during a hunt.

4. What should you do after you have landed a successful shot at a prey?

You should wait about 30 minutes after you have landed a successful shot at an animal. Then you can follow the trail left by the animal. There is nothing more dangerous than a wounded animal which is why you should wait till it exhausts itself before approaching it.

5. Why do people wear orange vests for hunting?

Orange is a bright color that is distinct from the surrounding area. This helps to let other hunters know you are in the area so you don’t accidentally shoot at them.

Final Thoughts

An advice I received when I started hunting was that you can never be over-prepared for a hunting trip. I have taken that advice with me to every hunting trip I have ever been on and luckily have not suffered any fatalities, just a few injuries. Remember that accidents happen but always be prepared for them whatever they may be. The guidelines I have set out for you are to make sure that you are as safe as possible during your hunting trip. Be safe when you are hunting this upcoming hunting season and I guarantee that you will enjoy it more! Happy hunting!

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