Hunting is a favorite pastime for many Americans, but it can be dangerous for more than the prey. Weapons like bows and guns demand your utmost respect. How much do you know about hunting safety?
Treat every gun as if it is loaded. The history of hunting is littered with injuries and deaths that could have been prevented by proper gun handling.
Many, many hunters are sedentary for much of the year and then plunge into the exertion of hunting … with dire results for their health. Especially if you're older, you should get your body into shape before the season begins.
Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and wait a few moments. Then carefully unload the gun. Consider ending the hunt unless you're sure there's no mechanical malfunction.
Bright orange clothing isn't required in every state. However, these highly visible garments could save you from being shot by another hunter.
Deer have limited color vision and they can't distinguish orange from, say, brown. So your gaudy, life-saving vest won't scare away big game.
Don't be the guy who accidentally pulls the trigger. Don't even touch the trigger until you are ready to fire.
Climbing with a weapon just doesn't make sense. Use a rope to lower and raise your weapon in and out of a tree stand.
Too many hunters get excited about their prey and neglect to look beyond the target. It's important to verify there's no one behind the target in case you miss or the bullet passes through the animal's flesh.
Strong, portable tree stands can be moved to follow the deer. And they don't harm trees or rot the way permanent wood stands do.
It's an annual tradition for many hunters -- drinking and then shooting. Alcohol consumption before a hunt is also completely irresponsible and should never be a part of your hunting routine.
You should always control the muzzle of your gun and keep it pointed in a safe direction. Don't get sloppy and let the muzzle drift towards your hunting partner … or yourself.
Cheap safety harnesses are readily available at many outdoor retailers. Use yours regularly and you'll avoid the falls that hurt many hunters each year.
A covered quiver will keep the arrows safely out of the way. It's common for hunters to accidentally jab themselves on unprotected broadheads.
Some sources say you should wait about 30 minutes before searching for the animal -- that way, you can safely retrieve it without spooking it into deeper and probably tougher terrain, which would put a strain on you and your buddies.
It's easy to take the weather for granted, particularly on nice, sunny days. But hypothermia can occur with temperatures as high as 50 degrees unless you have a rain-shedding layer to keep you dry.
Your bow's draw weight should determine the stiffness of the arrows you select. If the arrows aren't sufficiently stiff, they'll fly off target when you loose them.
Every year, excited hunters shoot before 100 percent confirming their targets. Too often, they wind up shooting another person or animal on accident.
Never dry fire a bow (in other words, without an arrow). Doing so can break the bow and hurt you.
Check the barrel for obstructions before you load a cartridge or shell. This simple habit will prevent a potentially catastrophic accident.
Waterfowl season often occurs during chilly weather. Be sure to have a waterproof fire-starting kit. It could save your life in the event that you can't make it back to your vehicle.
Cracked arrows can splinter or break when you draw them. Yes, they're expensive -- but it is cheaper to throw them away than to visit the emergency room.
Minor injuries happen often when you're outdoors. A first-aid kit is a cheap insurance policy that helps minimize injuries … and may also save your life.
Always tell someone where you're going before you head out hunting. That way, if you don't come back on time, they'll know that you may need help.
Place your weapon carefully on the ground and cross the fence using both hands. Don’t strap it to your back. It's too easy for the weapon to flop around and hurt someone.
Don't shoot animals on ridges. You have no idea what might be beyond your target.
Waterfowl hunting clearly takes place near ponds and lakes, which are death for your cell phone. Keep it safe in a waterproof bag in case you need it during an emergency.
It's extremely easy to load the wrong size of ammo into the wrong gun, and the consequences are often dire. Make sure you're using the correct cartridges or shells before each hunt.
Hunter orange is a statistical game-changer. You're seven times less likely to be accidentally shot if you wear your gaudy orange safety vest and hat.
Your gun and ammo should be stored in separate locked locations. Doing so makes it harder for children and unauthorized adults from accessing deadly weapons.
Simply be aware of yourself, your weapon and your surroundings. Simple awareness will keep you and everyone else safer.