Fall is hunting season throughout the U.S. and a great time to remind anyone who loves autumn recreation - hunters, anglers, hikers, mountain bikers, birders or campers - how to enjoy and safely share the great outdoors.
Hunting Safety Tips for Non-Hunters
If you feel uneasy about outdoor recreation during hunting season, follow these common sense rules and (with a few fashionable swaths of hunter blaze orange fabric) you can continue to enjoy the outdoors.
- Identify hunting season and lands open to hunting. Learn about where and when hunting is taking place and plan your recreation activities accordingly.
- Wear bright clothing (like hunter blaze orange). Make yourself visible. Choose colors that stand out, like bright, fluorescent red, orange or green. Avoid wearing earth-toned clothing.
- Don't forget to protect your dog, too. Tie a swath of brightly-colored fabric or a bandana around your dog's neck or purchase a hunter blaze orange vest, available from many sporting goods outfitters.
- Make noise. Whistle, sing or carry on a conversation as you walk to alert hunters to your presence.
- Be courteous. Once a hunter is aware of your presence, don't make unnecessary noise that disturbs wildlife.
- Make yourself known. If you do hear shooting, raise your voice and let hunters know that you are in the vicinity.
- Choose an alternative place or date. If you don't feel comfortable outdoors this time of year, choose an area where hunting is not allowed, like most (but not all) national or state parks (check ahead to be sure). The most heavily hunted seasons last only a few weeks - find out when they occur and schedule your activities around them.
Hunting Safety Tips for Hunters
Most of the tips above also apply to hunters, with addition of the most important step hunters can take- completing a state-certified hunter education course. Hunter education courses have dramatically decreased hunting-related injuries since 1949, when New York introduced the first mandatory course. Today's hunter education programs teach not just hunter safety but also promote ethical hunting practices and wildlife conservation.
- Get safe. Get certified! If you don't already have your hunter certification, start with this convenient online Introduction to Hunter Education course provided by the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA). IHEA also partners with a leading recreation safety training provider and state wildlife agencies to provide links to most states' online Official Hunter Safety Courses.
- Review and follow the four basic rules of firearm safety. The most common hunting incidents result from hunter judgment mistakes. To avoid hunting incidents, every hunter should review and follow these basic rules:
- Treat every gun as if it is loaded.
- Never let the muzzle of a firearm point at anything you do not intend to shoot.
- Keep you finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard until your sights are on the target and you are ready to shoot.
- Always be sure of your target and what is beyond.
- Remember common sense safety rules. When you go hunting, keep other common sense safety rules in mind:
- Check the weather report before you go.
- Tell someone, in writing, where you will be hunting and when you will return;
- Carry a first aid kit
- Bring dry clothing.