(StatePoint) Hunting season is underway, and both beginners and old pros are gearing up for adventure. But even the most seasoned hunters don’t know everything about their sport. Hunting can be dangerous, and experts warn that there is such a thing as getting too comfortable with firearms.
“Everyone needs instruction,” says David E. Petzal, co-host of the Outdoor Channel show “The Gun Nuts” and co-author of the new Field & Stream book, The Total Gun Manual: 335 Essential Shooting Skills.
“Admitting what you don’t know is actually one of the most crucial steps toward becoming an expert shooter and a safer hunter,” he writes.
With that in mind, Petzal and co-author Phil Bourjaily are providing crucial safety tips to anyone planning to go hunting this season:
- Every time you see a gun, pick one up or point it, assume that it’s loaded and treat it accordingly.
- Make sure your safety is always on and that the barrel is pointing down when you are walking or transporting your gun. When hunting with dogs, be sure the muzzle is level with the ground at the very least and preferably angled up in the air.
- Never shoot at a sound or movement. Be absolutely sure that you’re shooting at an animal and that no people are anywhere near your target.
- Wear at least the required amount of orange so you don’t become another hunter’s target.
- Make sure all animals are dead before strapping them onto your vehicle.
- Wait until your kids are old enough to understand and follow rules before bringing them hunting.
- Never climb a tree or over a fence with a loaded gun.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
- Save those beers until the end of the day, it’s just plain common sense.
- Look well beyond your target before you shoot. High-powered ammunition can travel up to three miles and still be deadly.
- Hunt with a trusted buddy. If you’re alone, make sure that someone knows where you will be and when to expect you back. If you’re hunting with an unsafe shooter, you don’t need an excuse to leave.
- If using a tree stand to hunt, don’t forget to wear a safety belt.
- Be sure all your equipment is working properly and you know how to operate it before hunting.
- Store and transport ammunition separately from guns. Keep everything under lock and key when it’s not in use.
- It doesn’t take much effort to elevate your heart rate into the danger zone. Make sure you exercise regularly for better fitness on your hunt.
Thorough safety tips, buying guides and practical gun handling advice can be found in “The Total Gun Manual: 335 Essential Shooting Skills” by Phil Bourjaily and David Petzal. For more information, visit Bourjaily and Petzal’s blog, fieldandstream.com/blogs/gun-nut.
Before heading out for your next big hunt, lock and load for your adventure by reviewing life-saving safety rules.