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The Dos and Don’ts of Hunting Safety

Hunting can be an exciting and rewarding outdoor activity, but it is crucial to practice hunting safely at all times. Whether you are a novice hunter preparing for your first hunt or an experienced hunter brushing up on your skills, learning and following the dos and don’ts of hunting safety is essential. This blog post will focus on the most imperative safety hunting tips for a safe and successful hunting trip.

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Wearing Proper Hunting Attire

Hunting garments

Whatever the hunt, proper hunting gear and clothing will bring you that much closer to success. Let us start with your clothing – what should I wear? You can pretty much wear whatever you want as long as it is comfortable, breathable and will keep you warm and dry, but before you go and put on your choice of clothing, consider what you are hunting.

For example, when hunting for turkey, do not wear blue, white, red, or black clothing. These colours will mistake you for a gobbler, and the potential outcome can be fatal. When it comes to deer, they can easily spot yellow or shades of blue, making your hunt that much more challenging. Opt for wearing vivid colours, like green, orange and red, which deer can not see. 

For many hunters, wearing camouflage makes it easier to avoid wearing the wrong colour. The camo colours and patterns help you blend in with your surroundings, allowing your prey to come in closer.

Is it Necessary for You to Wear Camouflage? 

No. For as long as humans have been hunting, they have worn whatever they had and, over time, whatever made them comfortable. Comfort here is the key! Human nature is to fidget when things are not quite sitting well. I have personally witnessed hunters wearing pyjama pants, and they had many successful hunts. That goes to show you that camo is not necessary, but it does look nice! If you haven’t scored some camo yet, consider the surrounding colours of the area (greens, browns, etc.) and try to choose colours that help you blend in.

RELATED: Waterfowl Hunting Gear: A Good Outfit Gets Birds!

Garment Legalities

Now for some legalities. These regulations may differ in your province or state. According to the Ontario regulations, “All licensed hunters, including bow hunters, falconers, bear hunters and trappers who are hunting under their trapping licence during a gun season for deer, elk or moose, are required to wear hunter orange. In addition, all licensed bear hunters hunting during the open season for black bear, which is not a gun season for deer, elk or moose, are required to wear hunter orange except when in a tree stand”. 

Why Hunter Orange for Hunting Safety?

Nothing in nature matches orange, therefore allowing other hunters to spot you from a considerable distance. How much of the colour orange do you have to wear? According to Ontario regulations, you must wear a hunter-orange hat and garment. The hunter-orange garment must cover a minimum of 400 square inches above the waist and be visible from all sides.

Pro Tip!

Don’t mess with covering up the orange with your pack! If you intend to carry a backpack, get a hunter orange pack BEFORE your hunt.

Don’t just follow these rules for the law!!! For example, you will spot a hunter from a mile away when they wear hunter orange on a dark December day. That same hunter you may never see even from close range if they are wearing camo. Hunting accidents are rare, and the average hunter knows that and should be proud of it – but on that same token, there is no room for error or lax safety steps. It ONLY takes one accident to be DEADLY, so please just wear your hunter orange!

Hunting Safety Gear Tips

Deer Hunting Essentials

We assume that you already have your hunting course completed and your hunting license in your hand. Make sure you have your hunting tags purchased before the hunt. To hunt moose, deer or elk, you must go through an allocation process and be successful. Once you have your game license and a valid tag, you can proceed with the hunt when the season opens. Before you do, let us look at the dos and don’ts of hunting safety gear tips.

Boots

DO:

Gear up for the hunt with the proper boots for the weather and season.

For cold-weather hunting, I use the Irish Setters Elk Tracker 860. These waterproof leather boots are very well insulated, keeping my feet warm. Not to mention, the Irish Setters have ScentBan technology incorporated into them. So far, I have not had any issues with these boots.

For those warmer-weather hunts, I use the Irish Setter Waterproof Pull-On boot. This 17″ tall rubber boot is insulated and also has ScentBan technology. Making it the perfect boot for that springtime or early fall hunt.

DON’T:

For a second, assume that any old boot will do. It does not take long for the ground cold to creep in, leaving you feeling cold and miserable. Above all, do not forget to pair it with the appropriate weather socks. You can also invest in some heated socks to keep your feet nice and warm.

Tip

To keep your feet warm and toasty, put on thin socks and tape a foot warmer to the bottom of the thin socks. Layer on a thick sock to hold it all in place – and in insulated fashion! In the next best thing to heated socks.

Rifle

DO:

Make sure that your weapon is sighted in before your hunt. Doing so will help prevent any accidents from happening, even for the safety of the animal. You do not want to wound the prey but kill it.
Unload your gun before crossing a fence, going up your tree stand, getting into (or on) a motorized vehicle or on a trail.

DON’T:

FORGET TO CLEAN YOUR GUN!!! after your hunt.
Get anything stuck in the barrel. Be careful where you put your gun down.
Never discharge your rifle up in the air or without a safe backstop.

RELATED: Rifle Cleaning: Time Tested Techniques to Preserve Your Guns

Backpack

DO:

Carry the following items in your pack: fire kit, multi-tool, emergency whistle, compass, flashlight (headlamp), dry towel, toilet paper, food, water, GPS, two-way radios, batteries, first aid kit, trail-marking tape, game calls, spare socks, rain jacket, gloves (heated gloves), hand and foot warmers, gutter gloves, permanent marker, butt-out tool, deer drag, pelvic saw, tarp shelter and cordage.

DON’T:

Bring anything shiny. Animals can spot it from miles away. Also, do not bring any stinky food! It will deter the animals.
Cover your hunter orange clothes with a non-hunter orange pack!!!

Range Finder

DO:

Take the time to scan landmarks and set yardage markers that stand out..
Use your rangefinder (or binoculars) to search for game and NOT your rifle!

DON’T:

Complicate an opportunity for a good shot by guessing the distance between you and your prey.

Knife

DO:

Carry a quality knife with you. There are many uses for a knife when hunting, like cleaning the game, cutting rope, notching tags, and any safety survival situations that may arise

RELATED: Morakniv Garberg Carbon: What Makes Bushcraft Knives So Special?

Scent Repellant

DO:

Spray yourself with scent repellant BEFORE you head out hunting.
Hunt so that your scent is down wind! Whether you spray yourself or not!

DON’T:

Assume that just because you saw a deer without using a repellant, they cannot smell you. You may have been sitting in a direction where the wind was blowing in your favour. Deer are amazing at hiding themselves when they sense danger.

Other Hunting Safety Gear to Bring with You

DO:

Remember to bring rope to hoist your unloaded rifle if using a tree stand.

DON’T:

Forget your scent attractants, cooler, seat/cushion, binoculars, ammo, ammo case, gun cleaning kit, decoys, and your ATV or Side X Side, which is also part of your gear if not on foot. It is your mode of transportation between camp and the stand.

Safely Moving While Hunting

Moving around safely in the woods

DO:

Notify your group when moving from the stand.
Remember that changing locations changes the safe zone of fire for every hunter, not just you.

Knowing Your Hunting Area

Deer hunter up in a tree stand

DO:

Take the time to scout your hunting area before your hunt. Try to see if you can spot the game trails. Know where the property limits, homes, shelters and roads are.
Survey the shot line and ensure clear visibility to the target area. A nearby cover is ideal because it breaks up your body outline.
Close gates on private property.

DON’T:

Invite too many people to join in on the hunt, as your chances for accidents go up tenfold. There is always that one person in the group who refuses to follow your or the landowners’ rules.
When hunting with that yahoo mentioned above, do not stick around! As soon as it is safe to do so, leave immediately! It’s not worth the risk.
Just place your stand wherever you think it is appropriate. Hang it too high, and you have no shot. Hang it in the wrong direction, and you might end up blinded by the sun, which is a huge safety issue. Make sure you are not hanging your tree stand on an unhealthy tree!
Hunt on private property without WRITTEN permission.
Hunt alone.

Respect for Other Hunters and Animals

Wild Turkeys and Deer

DO:

Positively identify your target before taking your shot.
Shoot, only what you can retrieve and use harvested game.
Obey the limits.
Take responsibility for your actions.
Move quietly if you see a hunter in your spot, and they got there before you.
Share your knowledge and skills with other hunters.
Pick up your empty shell casings and collect all your gear AND trash.
Keep your finger off the tigger until you are ready to shoot.
Shout to identify yourself when another hunter is approaching.

DON’T:

Shoot after legal hours or off season.
Spread your gear out, keep your footprint to a minimum.
Force yourself to take a shot if you are unsure. Doing so could lead to an injured animal if your aim is off.
Setup tree stands where they may disturb other hunters or the landowner.
Consume alcohol. It will impair you to the point that you will endanger fellow hunters and animals, not to mention yourself.
Interfere with another hunter’s hunt.
Ever stalk a turkey.
Leave your garbage lying around.
Shoot in the direction of a person!
Shoot in the direction of an animal that you are not hunting.
Point a firearm at yourself or another person. Keep it pointed in a safe direction, downrange.
Place your decoys in the line of fire of another hunter.

RELATED: Hunting Emotions: Surprising New Ways of Coping With A Harvest

Keeping Firearms and Ammunition Secure

Firearm Safety

DO:

Store your ammunition in a cool, dry place and separately from guns.
Lock your firearms in a gun safe, safe or lockable storage cabinet.
Oil sparingly in colder months to avoid freezing/jamming.
Keep all firearms and ammunition securely away from children.
Place a silica desiccant in your safe or lockbox to absorb moisture.

DON’T:

Stow your ammunition near solvents, open flame or a heat source.
Keep your ammunition with your firearms.
Store a loaded gun!
Store firearms in closed gun cases. You risk a moisture build-up that will wreak havoc on your firearms.
Keep firearms and ammunition in the sun.

RELATED: Hunting – Removing the Myths: Let’s Get Some Facts Right!

A Final Thought on Hunting Safety

Hunting safety is about more than just carrying the appropriate gear. It is about being conscious of your surroundings and using your best judgment when deciding whether or not to take that shot. It is about having the right attitude and respect for other hunters and the environment, which allows hunting to be continued by many who rely on it.

Following the dos and don’ts of hunting safety will bring you closer to a more rewarding and safe hunt. Lastly, don’t forget to perfect your aim with continuous target practice or trap shooting during the off-season. Remember to handle your firearms safely and keep abreast of the local laws and regulations for the hunting area!

If you have a hunting safety tip that I missed, please let me know in the comment section below.

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Katherine Widziak
Katherine Widziak

Fuelled by the boundless energy of my two adventurous children, my diverse repertoire extends beyond the realms of an ordinary mother. As a seasoned graphic designer, master of social media content, and savvy marketing strategist, I've sculpted my own entrepreneurial journey. My passion for the great outdoors defines me - from igniting fires to setting up camps, my skills are diverse and practical. Skilled in ATV riding, possessing sharpshooting accuracy, and a knack for out-fishing just about any man - even my husband, though that's our little secret.

When not working away at something creative, you'll find me enjoying the outdoors in one form or another. Hopefully, I can inspire many women and men alike to pursue their outdoor goals and embark on new adventures.

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