With the opening day of firearm deer season just hours away the excitement is building, the packing is underway and most people will be keeping a close eye on the clock at the office and counting the seconds until they can get away and get the season started. With all of the excitement it is important to remember a few common sense safety tips when you are out in the woods. It is also a good time to go over these tips with any young hunters who may be joining you and explain to them why these are good rules to live by.
Here is a list provided by Michigan DNR Conservation Officers, of 10 things you can do to have a safe hunt this year.
- Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
- Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
- Be certain of your target, and what’s beyond it, before firing. Know the identifying features of the game you hunt. Make sure you have an adequate backstop. Once the bullet is fired you can never take it back!
- Keep your finger outside the trigger guard and off the trigger until ready to shoot.
- 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.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages before or during hunting. Also avoid mind- or behavior-altering medicines or drugs.
- All firearm deer hunters on any land during daylight hunting hours must wear a hat, cap, vest or jacket of hunter orange visible from all sides. All hunters, including archers, must comply during gun season.
- Wear your safety harness if you are hunting from a tree stand.
- 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.
- Carry your cell phone into the woods. Remember to turn your ringer off or set your phone to vibrate rather than 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 smart phone, download a compass and flashlight.
These simple steps are things we hear often, but are common mistakes made when the excitement of the season is upon us. So before you head off into the woods take a minute remind yourself that safety comes first and pass the list on to another hunter. Let’s do our best to have a safe and successful season this year.