Welcome back, folks. Hope everyone had a fun and safe Thanksgiving. The weather was unseasonably cold here that day, and the wind was relentless. But, with family and friends, we grilled turkey, drank some wine and had a sincerely good time. Hope you did as well.
Today, I’d like to talk about hunting safety. I don’t know about you, but around here (northeastern Kansas), hunting is a big deal. And while ducks, geese, turkeys and more have been in season for a bit, tomorrow starts deer season. And when you think about hunting, most people think about deer; which means it’s a good time to have this discussion.
Hunting safety is something often talked about, but seemingly too little thought about. The reality you have to face when hunting is this: you are carrying an incredibly powerful weapon that has the ability to injure or kill you in an instant. And you don’t have to be trying to do something stupid; you just have to be not trying to be smart. (And yes, that is a poorly constructed sentence). So, for all you hunters out there, here are some tips to help ensure that you have a safe hunting season.
- Know Your Weapon: This may seem stupid, but really it’s not. I’ve heard stories of hunters going out after borrowing someone else’s gun. They weren’t sure where the safety was, exactly how to load it, what kind of shot it took, etc. It’s simply not safe. You need to know how to operate this deadly weapon safely, and the only way to do this is to know how the gun works. If you don’t know, don’t use the gun.
- Always Keep Your Safety On Until You’re Ready to Shoot: Again, this seems like a no-brainer, but I went out with a friend a few months ago, and sure enough, he spent the entire day with his safety off. He didn’t mean anything by it, but had his finger slipped, it could’ve turned out very poorly.
- Treat Every Gun As If It’s Loaded: This one may be slightly counter-intuitive. After all, you know there’s nothing in your gun, why treat it like anything other than a hunk of metal; without bullets, it can’t do anything. And that’s true. Strictly speaking, if you know there are no bullets in the gun, you won’t be able to hurt anyone. Despite that, there are two reasons why you should always treat a gun as if it’s loaded. First, it’s possible that there is a bullet or shell in the chamber that you’re unaware of; as would happen if you miscounted how much ammunition you put in. 2. It’s about training yourself. If you are always careful with guns, there is no chance that you’ll be careless (in theory, at least). Put another way, if you regularly treat unloaded guns as if they’re no big deal, you will be training yourself to accidentally treat a loaded gun as if it’s no big deal.
- Always Know Your Target and What’s Behind It: Again, this probably seems like common-sense, but it’s less common than it should be. When a hunter is out in the woods, he’s excited, he’s gearing up for the shot. And that’s great, but it also means that, without practice and forethought, he can be a little trigger-happy. The second part of this, Knowing What’s Behind Your Target, is equally important. Simply knowing your target isn’t enough; you have to know what’s behind your target if you miss, and don’t take stupid shots.
- Know and Follow Your State Laws: Most states have regulations about what firearms can be used, what amount of blaze orange you must wear, etc. These are designed to keep you safe. Know them and follow them.
- Never Mix Alcohol and Hunting: Beer and hunting are both fine things, but like oil and water, they don’t mix well. Remember, you are carrying something incredibly powerful in your hands, and you need all your wits about you to use it safely. Wait until the hunt is over to enjoy a cold one.
- Use Common Sense: This is not intended to be a comprehensive list. There are many great websites out there for hunters’ safety and you should take all necessary precautions when hunting. So, I’m going to conclude with this one point: use common sense. If something seems like a stupid idea, don’t do it. If you’re nervous about a particular hunting situation, don’t do it. Be careful, be safe, and have fun.
That’s all for today. Let me know any stories, suggestions, or other hunting tips in the comments box.