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Hunting is a classic American pastime enjoyed by people of all ages. As of 2019, over 15 million people participated in hunting activities across the country. However, besides being great exercise, a good way to fill your freezer, and contributing to conservation, hunting can also be highly dangerous if you don’t take the proper precautions. From wearing the right attire and safety gear for the conditions to safely bringing gear to your tree stand, here are some hunting safety tips you may have missed during your hunter’s ed class.
So You Took a Hunting Safety Class, Now What?
Before heading out on a hunting trip, you typically need a license, and to get your hunting license; you must take a hunting safety class. Most hunters tend to overlook the fact that hunting is a dangerous sport. From stalking to firing and tracking to field dressing in a range of terrain and elements, there are numerous risks involved when you are out in the field.
Although your hunting safety class covers many critical safety issues until you are actually out in the field stalking your game in frigid temperatures surrounded by other hunters, you can underestimate the importance of your safety lessons.
Hunting Safety Tips
Learn the Ropes from an Experienced Hunter
Gaining some practical experience is invaluable for a novice hunter. By shadowing someone who knows the ropes, they can teach you basic skills like how to start a fire when it's wet, load a backpack for a backcountry hunt, sharpen a hatchet, resight a rifle in the field, tie a bowline, treat a blister, quarter a deer and purify water. While you may already know how to do these things and more, can you do them under stress and when you are fatigued?
Keep Your First Aid Kit Fully Stocked and Think Out of the Box in an Emergency
During an emergency, it is critical that you act quickly, whether it's creating a tinder bundle to start a fire or knowing how to make an arm splint with a piece of wood. This also means you should be familiar with your first aid kit and its contents. There are several essential items that your first aid kit should contain, including:
- Wound dressing, including sterile wound dressing, sterile pad, sterile eye pad, waterproof, and fabric band-aids.
- Adhesive dressings, such as clear band-aids and gel band-aids (used for blister protection).
- Roller bandages, including support, conforming, open-weave, and self-adhesive varieties.
- Triangular bandages that can be folded to make slings or bandages.
- Antiseptic wipes to clean skin and wounds.
- Adhesive tape to loosen the end of bandages or keep dressings secure.
- Gauze pads for extra padding or for cleaning around wounds.
- Scissors for cutting bandages or clothes in case you need to access a wound.
- Space blanket to help maintain body temperature in extreme emergencies.
- Protective gloves to dress wounds or handle waste materials and bodily fluids.
Remain in the Same Place if You Get Lost
It is also important to remain in the same location during an emergency. This enables emergency services to locate you quicker and attend to your needs faster.
Ensure you keep calm during these situations, as panicking can cause anxiety that can induce panic attacks. Always call for help, even if you are in a remote location. You never know if there are other hunters, campers, or hikers around that could come to your aid.
Protect Your Ears and Eyes
Protecting your eyes and ears is a crucial aspect of safe hunting. Ensuring you keep them well-protected will allow you to continue hunting safely for years to come.
Weapons such as a .22 caliber rifle can reach 140dB and over, which can permanently damage your hearing. Pistols and big bore rifles can reach over 175dB, which means a single gunshot from either of these weapons can cause severe hearing problems.
If you continue to hunt without ear protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs, you are at risk of eventual hearing loss. The sensitive hairs of your inner ears that detect vibrations and change them into noises can become permanently damaged.
You should also ensure you wear shooting glasses to protect your eyes from materials that may ricochet toward you when hunting. They prevent debris, dirt, and powder from entering your eyes in the event of a firearm malfunction and protect from them potential harm.
Get in Shape and Be Honest About Your Skill Level
Hunting is a physical activity that requires strength, endurance, and power. From carrying weapons, and other essentials when trekking through rough terrain to being out from dawn until dusk, it’s essential you are in good shape before embarking on a hunting trip.
If you know that your physical abilities aren’t the best they could be, don’t set off on a hunt beyond your skill level. This could be extremely dangerous for you and your hunting partner, as you may find yourself in situations that you are physically unfit to handle.
To ensure your body is ready for the strength a hunt requires, train your whole body by completing regular rounds of push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and squats. Weighted step-ups can also help you prepare because it emulates a heavy hunting backpack filled with essential gear. Don’t forget to work on your stamina to increase your endurance and reduce the likelihood of injury.
Hunt Forests Wisely
When hunting in public areas, such as forests, be aware that these landscapes are free terrain. Other outdoor enthusiasts, such as campers and hikers, may be enjoying the environment, so it is important to have your wits about you - not just in relation to the animal you are hunting.
Be mindful of non-hunters, and respect their activities - they have just as much a right to be there as you.
Use a Haul Line to Bring Gear to Your Tree Stand
You should never carry your hunting equipment up or down a tree when hunting. Using a haul line is the safest option, as it allows you to carefully and precisely maneuver your gear without the risk of falling.
Haul lines are commonly used in hunting and consist of a heavy cord attached to your tree stand to bring up or lower your equipment. If you are using a firearm, you should attach the haul line to its sling. This ensures the weapon hangs down safely with the muzzle pointed to the ground.
A Safe Hunt is an Enjoyable Hunt
Employing these hunting safety tips will ensure that you stay protected and alert during your session. From knowing your skill level to having a full first aid kit, you’ll have the knowledge you need to head out on a safe and successful hunting trip.