Hunting Safety

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Michelle Humann
  • 341st Missile Wing Ground Safety
As the summer months fade away, many of us look ahead to hunting season. October brings with it the chance to head to the field in search of birds or to the mountains for deer and elk with a bow and arrows. This is the time when many may forget the safety practices that got them through the summer injury free. Do not let it happen to you. There are a few basic areas of safety, which will help you have a safe and enjoyable hunting season; weapons safety, physical conditioning and proper gear.

Weapons safety - It is easy to take our weapons for granted over the years, but we must remember some of the basics to avoid injury. Become familiar with the weapon you are using such as location of the safety mechanism, how to load and unload the weapon as well as a general feel for how it operates. Ensure you are using the correct ammunition for your firearm and always treat a firearm as if it is loaded.

Archers should ensure their equipment is tuned and is of proper pull and fit for the user. Check your arrows and tips for condition as well as the string, rest and all moving parts for security and signs of wear. Practicing often with your bow prior to the hunting season will allow you to gain a feel for the "let off" of your bow and also develop muscle memory. This will help increase your accuracy and hold at full draw longer when waiting for that perfect shot. Never carry your bow up into your stand and always secure yourself with a harness.

Physical conditioning - It is easy to get distracted while searching for game and you may find yourself less in tune with what your body is telling you. Your heart rate could be racing or dehydration could be setting in if you are not paying attention to the signs. There are a few things you can do to prevent this, such as stopping every so often to catch your breath and take in some water. This will allow your body to adjust to the exertion you are putting it under and also prevent cramping and dehydration. Eating light snacks high in protein and carbohydrates will also be helpful. Fruits, nuts and seeds or a balanced trail mix is great for this.

It is a good idea to exercise prior to hunting season, tailoring your workout to meet the climbing and elevation demands. Stretching before you head out in the field can reduce the chance of muscle strain as well. Be aware of your own limitations. By not exceeding your physical limits, you will have a far more enjoyable hunt. If you are fortunate enough to down that monster trophy, seek assistance retrieving it or pack it out in quarters. This may take a bit more time but it is not worth injuring yourself.

Proper gear - Having the proper gear also affects safety. The right clothing for the conditions will prevent you from over heating or becoming too cold. Heat exhaustion and hypothermia are both real risks in Montana. Being prepared for the drastic climate shifts by layering your clothing will have you ready for whatever the day brings. Be sure your boots are a proper fit and are broken in to prevent blistering and keep an extra pair of dry sock tucked away as back up if your feet get wet.

Assemble a small survival kit to carry with you while hunting. First aid items such as anti-bacterial wipes, Band Aids, small wound dressing, tape and strips of clean cloth can be useful in an emergency. A compass and small map or diagram of the area you will be hunting is a good idea. Tell a family member and a co-worker or supervisor where you will be as well. Multi-tools or a good sturdy knife will also be handy. There are plenty of websites you can visit to search for tips on building a survival kit depending on your needs.

These are a few basic safety tips that will help you have a healthy and productive hunting season. For more hunting safety tips, you can search the web or visit your local Fish, Wildlife and Parks office. By taking a little extra time to prepare yourself, you will can stay safe while hunting.