Wilderness Medicine, First Aid, and Outdoor Skills
Hunting Safety

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US Army First Aid Manual
Fundamental Criteria for First Aid
Basic Measures for First Aid
First Aid for Special Wounds
First Aid for Fractures
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Appendix A: First Aid Case and Kits, Dressings, and Bandages
Appendix B: Rescue and Transportation Procedures
Appendix C: Common Problems/Conditions
Appendix D: Digital Pressure
Appendix E: Decontamination Procedures
Appendix F: Glossary

The lake that morning was as still as glass. There was barely a breeze. My future father-in-law and brother-in-law were in the blind. I was approximately 90 yards from the boat heading in their direction when two Bluebills circled around 50 yards from them, coming between the line of sight of the boat and the blind. Excitedly, they quickly rose to shoot, as they had not seen a duck all morning. That is when my perception of hunting and guns elevated to a whole new level.

Time quickly took on a new dimension as the events of that moment unfolded ever so slowly, frame by frame, as if being filmed for a movie. I heard the shots, and felt the warm trickle of blood from my forehead and across my face. Instinctively I clung to the bottom of the boat. Taking my glasses off and viewing them, I saw there was a puncture hole in one of my lenses about the size if a #4 pellet. I immediately began to place a hand in front of the affected eye to see if my vision was clear. The affected left eye was somewhat blurry. I began taking ice-cold lake water and irrigating my eye copiously.

I have been hunting since I was 9 years old. My father has taught me all the rules and regulations of gun safety, from carrying a gun, shooting a gun, safety on, safety off, knowing where you are shooting, what direction, and what is behind your target. My father insisted on this. The first time I dropped my gun, it was taken away for the whole hunting season.

I was no stranger to hunting safety, but this was the first time I encountered danger of this kind. I had been shot at about 80 yards by a #4 lead shot. One hit my forehead and superficially cut my skin, and one hit me directly center of my lens. I was able to keep my eye with no visual disturbance, but I did have some imbedded shards of glass that I picked out for the next 24-48 hours.

I am fine and continue to hunt, which is all the more reason to dedicate Survive Outdoors to hunting safety.

For serious hunters who love and are dedicated to the sport of hunting, it is imperative that we teach our children well and carry hunting safety into the next generation. The rules apply whether one hunts with a gun or a bow. Here are a few basic rules that should be implemented ALL the time:

  1. Treat your disarmed gun or bow with the same respect that you would with a loaded bow or gun. ALWAYS assume that your gun or bow is loaded and ready to shoot.
  2. NEVER, EVER point your gun or bow at anyone when unloaded.
  3. Always point your weapon in a safe direction.
  4. Keep your safety on until ready to shoot.
  5. Do not become anxious and take your safety off of your weapon prior to the shot. That is why the safety is located usually within an inch of the trigger.
  6. ALWAYS keep your target IN FRONT of you. That is crucial.
  7. Clearly identify your target before you shoot. Every year individuals are shot because they are mistaken for a deer. In all my years of hunting, I still cannot fathom how this occurs. Even 30 minutes before sunrise, one should clearly see their target before shooting. Once again emotions get in the way and inappropriate shots are taken.
  8. Always unload your firearm; never climb into a tree stand, climb over a fence, in or over a duck blind with a loaded weapon.
  9. Know the range of your weapon. Know how far it will shoot. Know what loads you have in the chamber. Know how accurate you are with a bow and how far that your bow will shoot. Know what is behind your target.
  10. Keep your emotions in check. Use GOOD judgment. No animal, no deer, whether it is a pintail drake, large rooster pheasant climbing out of a morning’s cornfield, or a 10 to 12-point buck is worth an accident. It is when these gifts of nature occur and our emotions rise that mistakes happen.
  11. Ear safety: Many hunters will sacrifice ear safety so they can hear game coming, especially when deer hunting. Put a soft earplug in the ear closest to your weapon. I personally have decreased hearing now in my right ear because this is one area I neglected over time. All of our senses are precious and we must take care of them as best as possible.
  12. Always keep your gun clean. When you unload your gun, if it is a pump, I usually make sure 2-3 ejections after the 3 shells come out that there is nothing in the chamber. I leave the chamber open. The same for automatics. Check and see if your barrel is free of any debris. Over the years, a mouse may find its way into your gun case. It can tear up some of the cotton, and cotton may be stuck in the barrel. If you shoot, you’ll have a split barrel. The shrapnel could come back in your face, causing eye injuries and severe facial lacerations. Even a little bit of snow at the end of your barrel can cause a severe injury. When you drop your gun, you should always dismantle it, clean it, wipe it down, and put it back together.
  13. As with any piece of equipment, a clean weapon is a functional weapon. This holds true with bows, as well. Check them before use to make sure they are in good working order. All parts of the bow should be tightened and in correct position, usually accomplished with an Allen wrench, prior to hunting.

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