I hunted for about 45 years. I stopped about ten years ago and picked up a camera. I still get the thrill of being in the outdoors however I just do not need to kill and harvest animals anymore. I have the utmost respect for ethical hunters and literally total disdain for those that poach or unethical. In that 45 years I have seen many atrocities and poor safety behavior. For a time I also guided for a hunting club in southern Illinois, duck and goose hunting.There I saw young and old novices from the urban areas and it did not take long for me to give up that gig. I also have worked in the Emergency Department and Urgent Care where I have dealt with many hunting injuries. With that prelude I also was the victim of a hunting accident. It does not matter how safe you are hunting. When it comes to loaded weapons and others in hunting party you cannot fully control the behavior of others. It is similar to driving that 3000 pound bullet on the road. The other guy! Watch out for the other guy.
The following rules apply to a long gun, pistol or bow.
- Treat your disarmed gun or bow with the same respect that you would as if it was loaded. Assume your gun or anyones else is loaded.
- NEVER EVER point your gun or bow at anyone. Do not rest the barrel on your shoe ( have seen that many times.)
- ALWAYS point your weapon in a safe direction.
- Keep your safety on till you are ready to shoot.
- Do not become anxious in the moment of the hunt and the moment of the shoot. NEVER forget to IMMEDIATELY put your safety back on.
- ALWAYS keep your target in front of you
- Clearly identify your target before you shoot. Every year during deer season someone gets shot due to an overanxious hunter shooting blind into the brush usually due to what he hears. In all my years in the field I still have a hard time understanding the ineptness of this behavior.
- ALWAYS unload your firearm getting in and out of a blind or deer stand. As well as casing your gun and getting in your vehicle.
- Know the range of your weapon. Know what loads you have in your chamber. Know your skills and your accuracy at certain distances.
- Keep your emotions in check. Use GOOD judgement. No trophy whether it be a 10 or 12 point buck, pintail drake or a beautiful rooster Pheasent climbing above a cornfield is worth a mistake or injury.
- Ear safety. Many hunters have sacrificed their hearing due to shooting over the years. They make some excellent protection these days and some ear muffs allow you to talk and hear your partner while you hunt.
- Always keep your gun clean. Always check your barrel to make sure its free of debris.
- Your bow also should be checked before a hunt. Tighten all areas with an Allen wrench and always sight it in. Sights move over time.
Stay safe, enjoy your hunting and keep donating to conservation.