It is a tradition around my house—when my son returns home every Christmas—we head to the pheasant fields for a bird hunt. He generally hasn’t hunted since the previous Christmas, so the first thing we review is the 12 Rules of Hunter Safety as featured in the www.hunter-ed.com online hunters safety course.
12 Tips for a Safer Holiday Hunt
- Be sure your firearm is safe to operate. Before every hunt, ensure your firearm is safe and operating properly. Check the action for proper operation and that the barrel is free of all obstructions.
- When handling your firearm always assume it is loaded.
- Control the muzzle by keeping it pointed in a safe direction.
- Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.
- Be sure of your target and what lies beyond.
- Don’t rely on the safety device. The safety on a firearm is a mechanical device; it can fail.
- Transport your firearm safely. When traveling to your hunting site, transport your firearm unloaded, locked with a trigger or chamber lock, enclosed in a case and stored in the trunk of the vehicle.
- Only use ammunition that is correct for the firearm. Check that it matches, and then double-check it. Using the wrong cartridge in a firearm can possibly cause serious injury to the shooter or others who are nearby.
- Wear hunter or blaze orange clothing. Wearing hunter orange reduces the chance of a hunting-related incident. 40 states require hunters to wear hunter orange while hunting, with several game exceptions. Even if you are excluded from wearing hunter orange while hunting, wear it to and from your hunting location.
- Understand and respect the safe “Zones of Fire.” This is an area into which a hunter may shoot safely. There should be no people, buildings that could be occupied by people or domestic animals in your zone of fire.
- Know the proper methods to cross an obstacle such as a fence or stream. Unload the firearm and make sure the action is open.
- Use safety devices for ear and eye protection.
It is important you understand the rules and regulations for the state in which you are hunting and have a proper hunting license. Never hunt with someone who does not respect the 12 Rules for Hunter Safety or the state’s hunting rules and regulations.
Even though it is the holiday season, never use alcohol or drugs when hunting.
If you have a brand new hunter, then first take an online hunter education course. Check that the Hunter Ed Course Hunter Safety Training is approved for your state. Most states will also require a field and skills day to demonstrate the new hunter’s firearm handling skills. Check with your state’s fish and game agency to schedule your completion day.
Enjoy the hunt!