As we prepare our gear for the season, it’s always a good idea to talk safety. If you are planning to take a new or seasoned hunter into the field this year, or if you are going alone, safety should be your first priority.
New hunters typically complete a state-recognized hunter education course that stresses safety, so if you are taking a new hunter, it should be still fresh in their minds. For the rest of us, it may have been a few years since we’ve sat through a hunter education course, so a preseason refresher will help get your season off to a safe start.
“Our turkey hunting obsession helps to make us who we are, but every passionate hunter needs to stress safety to those hunting alongside them, as well as use safe hunting practices themselves,” said Travis Sumner, NWTF hunting heritage and habitat manager. “Young hunters learn by watching veteran hunters, and we want to make sure they learn to be safe while hunting so they can enjoy our sport and pass it along to the next generation.”
Sumner offered these tips for safe spring hunting.
Ten safety tips for spring hunting
1. Treat all firearms as if they are loaded.
2. Always keep your gun’s muzzle pointed in a safe direction, never toward a person.
3. Never put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
4. Identify your target and verify beyond your target before shooting.
5. Anyone shooting or near a shooter should wear hearing and eye protection.
6. Never climb or jump with a gun. You can’t control the direction of the muzzle if you stumble or fall. Unload and safely lay the gun down or hand it to your hunting buddy if you must climb or jump. Use the same procedure when crossing over or under fences, trees or other obstructions.
7. Keep the muzzle clear. Never let anything obstruct the muzzle of a gun or allow it to come in contact with the ground.
8. When you finish shooting, put the trigger safety in the “on” position and unload the gun.
9. Never run with a loaded gun to retrieve your downed bird.
10. Never wear the colors red, white or blue. Use total camouflage and sit against a large tree or rock wide enough and tall enough to shield you from hunters approaching from behind.
And as a bonus, for those of us hunting public land in particular, if another hunter approaches your setup, call out in a loud, clear voice. Make sure your presence is acknowledged before you move. Never wave to alert another hunter of your presence.