The thrill of chasing down a twelve-point buck or bagging a prize-winning turkey sends millions of hunters into the woods every year in search of that prize kill. Hunting is exciting, but it can also be dangerous and even deadly if hunters are not educated and religiously exercise good hunting safety techniques.
Before leaving on your hunting trip, prepare yourself well. Never go to an unplanned location or take off on a spontaneous hunting trip. Let others know where you are planning to hunt and when you will be returning. If necessary, leave detailed directions to your hunting grounds with friends or family that will be staying home in case an emergency arises and they need to direct medical personnel to your location. Try to return home as close to your planned time as possible. If you are late checking in, your contact person can then know to set out using your directions to see if you need assistance.
Take the time to prepare your weapon. If using a rifle or shotgun, clean and inspect the weapon after every use and after any time the weapon has spent in storage. Prepare a small first aid kit to carry with you while you are hunting. Consider bringing your cell phone. You can always keep it turned off while you are hunting, and a phone can be the difference between life and death in a medical emergency. Always be prepared to give detailed directions to your exact location as you move through the woods.
In The Woods
Once arriving at your chosen hunting spot, be sure to don your safety gear along with orange-colored clothing on your head and/or chest to help other hunters in the area determine you from the game. While camouflaged gear is great to help you remain undetected by the animals, it can also confuse other hunters if they see movement from a distance without recognizing the orange color. If you are hunting in a group, try to keep the location of those around you in your mind as you change positions to help avoid accidents.
If you are using a decoy such as a doe decoy, be sure to use orange safety tape around the perimeter of the area you will be in, to help other hunters recognize your decoy. You can also observe the area from an elevated position to further protect yourself from any stray shots directed at your decoy.
During The Hunt
If you are hunting deer and find yourself tracking a wounded animal, always use extreme caution. Other animals in the area may become panicked at the smell of one of their own running wounded near them. An injured animal is very unpredictable and may likely be desperate to get away if it senses that you are pursuing. Never approach a wounded animal head-on. Never allow yourself to be corned between a solid object and a wounded animal. Always have a way of escape in mind should the animal attack. If attacked, try to protect your head and chest as much as possible to limit damage to your vital organs and increase your chance of survival.
It is also important to be aware of and on the lookout for other animals like bears and snakes that may be encountered while hunting. Being aware of your surroundings is an important step in staying safe while hunting. Use some caution and common sense to ensure many more years of happy hunting yet to come.