Fall is coming. September 1st kicked off a few hunting seasons here in Michigan. It is currently an exciting time and more excitement will build, as we get closer to the openers of small game, bear and deer season.

With all of the anticipation and excitement, it is important to remember a few common-sense safety tips when you are out in the woods.  Safety should be the number one priority of every hunt. With the youth and liberty deer hunts, followed shortly by the youth waterfowl hunt it is also a good time to go over and refresh safety tips with any young hunters who may be joining you and explain to them why these are good rules to live by.

Below is a list provided by Michigan DNR Conservation Officers, of 10 things you can do to have a safe hunt this year.

  1. Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
  2. Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
  3. Be certain of your target and what is beyond it before firing. Know the identifying features of the game you hunt. Make sure you have an adequate backstop. Once the bullet leaves your firearm, you can never take it back.
  4. Keep your finger outside the trigger guard and off the trigger until ready to shoot.
  5. Don’t run, jump or climb with a loaded firearm. Unload a firearm before you climb a fence or tree or jump a ditch. Pull a firearm toward you by the butt, not the muzzle.
  6. Avoid alcoholic beverages before or during hunting. Also, avoid mind- or behavior-altering medicines or drugs.
  7. Wear your hunter orange.
  8. Wear your safety harness if you are hunting from a tree stand.
  9. Always let someone know where you are hunting and when you plan on returning. This information helps conservation officers and others locate you if you get lost.
  10. Carry your cell phone into the woods. Remember to turn your ringer off or set your phone to vibrate rather than the ring. Your cell phone emits a signal that can help rescuers locate you when you are lost. Make sure, before you leave for the woods each day that your phone is fully charged. If you have a smartphone, download a compass and flashlight.

These ten simple steps are things we hear frequently but are the most common mistakes made when the excitement of the season is upon us.  Before you head off into the woods take a minute, remind yourself that safety comes first and pass the list on to another hunter.

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