Hunter Safety

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Safety Tips for Hunters from USDA

  • Check weather reports before visiting the forest.
  • Tell someone where you will be hunting and when you will return.
  • Be familiar with the area you want to hunt.
  • Dress properly and be prepared for the worst possible conditions.
  • During certain seasons, hunters must wear hunter orange viewable from all directions.If accompanied by a dog, the dog should also wear hunter orange or a very visible color on a vest, leash, coat or bandana.
  • Check hunting equipment before and after each outing, and maintain it properly. Familiarize yourself with its operation before using it in the field.
  • Carry a spare set of dry clothing. Use layering techniques to prevent moisture while retaining body warmth. Always bring rain gear.
  • Carry a first aid kit.
  • Clearly identify your target before shooting. Prevent unfortunate accidents or fatalities.
  • Put hunting plans in writing (dates, times, location and expected time of return). Putting plans in writing; leaving one at home and one on your vehicle.
  • Be alert when hunting near developed areas and trails. Other recreationists are in the forest as well.
  • Avoid wearing white or tan during deer season. Wear hunter orange or another highly visible color. 

Safety Tips for Nonhunters visiting the National Forests

Wear bright clothing. Make yourself more visible. Choose colors that stand out, like red, orange

or green, and avoid white, blacks, browns, earth-toned greens and animal-colored clothing. Orange vests and hats are advisable.

  • Don’t forget to protect your dog. Get an orange vest for your dog if he/she accompanies you.
  • Make noise. Whistle, sing or carry on a conversation as you walk to alert hunters to your presence. Sound carries well across mountain basins, and hunters should be listening for any sounds of animal movement.
  • Be courteous. Once a hunter is aware of your presence, don’t make unnecessary noise to disturb wildlife. Avoid confrontations.
  • Make yourself known. If you do hear shooting, raise your voice and let hunters know that you are in the vicinity.
  • Know when hunting seasons are. Continue to hike, but learn about where and when hunting is taking place.

NRA Gun Safety Rules

Available as a brochure, the fundamental NRA rules for safe gun handling are:

  1. ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. This is the primary rule of gun safety. A safe direction means that the gun is pointed so that even if it were to go off it would not cause injury or damage. The key to this rule is to control where the muzzle or front end of the barrel is pointed at all times. Common sense dictates the safestdirection, depending on different circumstances.
  2. ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. When holding a gun, rest your finger on the trigger guard or along the side of the gun. Until you are actually ready to fire, do not touch the trigger.
  3. ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use. Whenever you pick up a gun, immediately engage the safety device if possible, and, if the gun has a magazine, remove it before opening the action and looking into the chamber(s) which should be clear of ammunition. If you do not know how to open the action or inspect the chamber(s), leave the gun alone and get help from someone who does.

Know your target and what is beyond. Be absolutely sure you have identified your target beyond any doubt. Equally important, be aware of the area beyond your target. This means observing your prospective area of fire before you shoot. Never fire in a direction in which there are people or any other potential for mishap. Think first. Shoot second.