Safe Hunting Tips
Hunters often say that the worst day hunting is better than the best day at work. Obviously this is not always true. One misstep can turn an otherwise incredible day into a worst case nightmare. It takes more than the latest, most expensive gear to stay safe. Hunting safety includes a little woodsmanship and some common sense.
Not every hunting trip requires a truck load of gear to stay safe. During a trip to the back 40 you may only need to stuff a few items in a pocket. Hunters should always carry a cell phone and a knife. With todays technology, cell phones work at least part of the time almost anyplace. Once your hunt moves from the backyard to your local woods your safety equipment list increases. Items for a daypack should include at a minimum a compass, fire starters, whistle, mirror, flashlight, poncho, basic first-aid kit, snack and water. If you will be in dangerous bear country then a bear spray might be needed. Equipment for trips overnight and out of town should be tailored to the area you are hunting.
It is a good idea to practice using a compass before you need it. Some compasses have a mirrored lens cover. A GPS is nice and you should carry and use one, but for safeties sake, never rely on batteries or a clear sky to get out of the woods. Before entering the woods take a reading relative to a landmark ( like a road, mountaintop, etc.) with your compass. You will be able to use this information to find your way out. If you have a GPS it is a good idea to make a waypoint at the spot you enter the wilderness.
Before leaving for your hunt you should always tell someone where you will be. This sounds like a no-brainer but is often overlooked when hunting familiar areas. It could take hours to find a fallen hunter even in a small patch of woods, say nothing about the time it would take to search a forest. This is even more critical if you hunt more than one patch of woods.
Weather is always a major safety concern. In many parts of the country hunting season occurs when there is a possibility of severe storms. It is a good idea to check the weather in the days leading up to your trip. Dress for the weather. Hunters should wear layers in cold weather. Do not wear all of your clothes as you walk to your stand. Sweat is a killer. It is better to be a little chilly as you walk then add some clothes once you have reached your stand. Do not fool with Mother Nature.
A basic knowledge of first-aid is important not only for hunters but for everyone. Minor injuries can often be taken care of in the field. Keep a first-aid kit that is stocked with items that can take care of minor cuts and punctures, burns, splinters, blisters, stings and bites. If your hunting area has poisonous snakes then you should carry a snake bite kit. If someone gets bit treat them quickly then go to the hospital. Never assume it is a dry bite. Remember first-aid is not total-aid. If you have a serious injury then you must seek professional medical attention.
Bring and drink lots of water. It is a myth that you only get dehydrated in hot weather. Dehydration can cause several problems. Among them are headaches, fatigue, nausea and death. Dehydration can cause someone to get desperate and start making poor decisions. Even on short trips you should carry water. There are many good water filters that are portable. It is a good idea to have one with you.
Staying safe is most critical when you are lost. The safest thing you can do when you are lost is admit it. It really is pretty simple, you are lost and you do not know how to get out. Get over your ego, YOU NEED HELP. If you don't you are likely to die. Once you have admitted you are lost, stop. Take note of your situation. Do you have shelter? Do you have food and water? Can you safely make a fire? Are you in a spot that searchers will find you? Making an overnight shelter is your first task. A temporary one can be made from your poncho. In most cases it will be safe to make a fire. gather enough fuel to last the night. Never build a fir in extremely dry forests or any area that the fire could get out of control. Prepare food and drink before it gets dark.
Hunters should always follow the 10 commandments of gun safety. Here is an article about gun safety. https://knoji.com/the-ten-commandments-of-gun-safety-rules-to-live-by/ Even non-hunters should know these rules by heart.
Staying safe while hunting is not hard. Most events in the woods are within a hunters control. Most woodsmen spend their entire life outdoors without an emergency. It is that rare occurrence that makes all the preparation worth it. After all a safe hunting trip is a fun hunting trip.