Important safety information for hunters
As the start of season known as The Roar approaches, enthusiastic hunters are already planning their trips into the bush to catch the elusive deer. The Roar is the season when stags are most vocal, calling to attract not only the attention of mates and protecting their territory but there is none who respond more enthusiastically to this call than a HUNTER. Safety for the hunters is an important issue through this time, from the clothing which is worn through to firearm safety, communication and the preparation undertaken prior to the hunt. If you are new to hunting or haven’t been hunting for a while it’s a great idea to take a hunting safety course. Even if you are an avid and regular hunter the course is a good reminder of the basics and will cover safe handling of your gun, care of your gun, hunting laws, and other precautions relating to hunting. Hunting is a sport enjoyed by many and there’s nothing like the thrill of hunting your favourite game. But a hunter should always take the time to ensure they have followed all the safety precautions and make this year’s hunting trip a safe one! 1. Think before you pull the trigger – identify the target and make sure what you are firing at is animal not human. Determine that you have a safe backstop or background and know the range of your weapon. Even a .22 rimfire can travel over 2-1/2 miles. 2. Always keep the safety on until ready to fire and always point the muzzle in a safe direction. 3. Treat every firearm with respect and make sure you have read your instruction manual carefully before you handle new firearms. 4. Unload firearms when they are not in use and store sporting arms in cases when travelling to and from shooting areas. 5. Handle the firearms and ammunition carefully. Never climb a fence or tree or jump a ditch or cross difficult terrain with a loaded firearm. If you happen to fall, disassemble the gun and check the barrel from the breech end for obstructions. 6. Be sure you know where your companions are at all times. If in doubt, never take a shot. When hunting, wear daylight fluorescent orange so you can be seen from a distance or in heavy cover. 7. Show restraint and pass up shots which have the slightest chance of being unsafe. 8. Don’t drink alcohol or take drugs before or while handling firearms as they impair normal physical and mental body functions and affect emotions, making it easier to lose control. 9. Be aware of additional circumstances which require added caution or safety awareness and always wear eye and ear protection when shooting firearms. 10. Dress for the weather, take a compass and maps to prevent from getting lost, and be alert for other sources of danger. When hunting for deer, wearing bright colours is the first step towards safety and protection. Deer cannot see you but additional hunters and hikers can. The proper clothing should always be worn so that other hunters can see you and do not mistake you for a target. You need to wear a bright orange hat and vest for sure, and other bright clothing is also advised. The more you stand out the safer you will be. Forget the camouflage. Fluorescent orange clothing has become standard equipment for hunters. It is sometimes referred to as ‘‘hunter orange’’. Because it looks so bright to humans (but not most game animals) and looks like nothing in nature, it prevents other hunters from mistaking a person for an animal, or shooting in your direction. Hunters who wear hunter orange are seven times less likely to be shot than those who don’t wear it. Heavily forested areas are often shared by hikers, joggers, campers, and seasonal hunters. During hunting season this can be a dangerous mix. If you are going to be using an area that is used by hunters make sure you always are wearing bright clothing and reflectors so that you are not mistaken for game. It’s never a good idea to bring children into an active hunt area. All hunters should develop a code that make them good hunters. These ‘‘hunter ethics’’ enforce the basics of hunting safety, and develop certain responsibilities to the sport, which are as important as handling a weapon safely. Obey all the rules of safety and insist that those around you do the same. Obey all game laws and insist that those hunting with you do likewise. Do your best to acquire marksmanship and hunting skills that assure clean, sportsmanlike skills. Support conservation efforts that assure good hunting for future generations. Don’t be a slob. Keep your campsite neat, and don’t offend others by openly displaying your kill in camp or on your vehicle. Pass along to other hunters, especially youngsters, the attitudes and skills essential to being a true outdoor sportsman. If you are planning to hunt on private land you need to get the landowners permission before entering. Some landowners will allow you to access their land, but others will not and a hunter needs to respect their wishes as it is their land. If you cannot obtain permission then look for another area to hunt. Never hunt in areas that are high traffic areas with either people or vehicles and never hunt in an area where discharging a firearm is prohibited, and always obey all local hunting laws.