’Tis The Season for Safe Hunting

Hunting is one of the safest outdoor recreational activities in which an individual can participate. However, each season there are accidents that could be easily avoided if hunters adhered to the 10 commandments of firearms safety and other common sense rules of safe hunting. Every hunter should strive to hunt safely. Hunters should always abide by state laws, regulations, and the common sense rules of safe hunting.

Alabama state law requires that all hunters wear a minimum of 144 square inches of blaze orange or a solid blaze orange cap during and in areas of open gun deer season. Blaze orange does not occur in nature and when seen by a hunter is easily recognizable as another human being. Wearing blaze orange greatly reduces the risk of being mistaken for game or being involved in a two-party hunting accident.

A common sense rule that all hunters should abide by is turning on a small flashlight while traveling to and from their hunting area during low light conditions. Low light conditions can make it difficult for another hunter to properly identify a target. A small beam of light will identify you as a human being and not a deer.

Wearing a safety harness while using a tree stand is highly recommended for all hunters and is required on wildlife management areas. Although wearing a safety harness does not eliminate the possibility of being involved in a tree stand accident, it should minimize the potential for serious injury.

It’s also important for tree stand hunters to have a plan that allows them to safely descend to the ground once their safety harness has kept them from falling to the ground in an uncontrolled manner.

Abiding by the 10 commandments of firearms safety greatly reduces your risk of being involved in a hunting accident. To make a safe activity even safer, abide by the following rules:

1.      Treat every firearm with the same respect due a loaded firearm.

2.      Control the direction of your firearm’s muzzle.

3.      Identify your target and what is beyond.

4.      Be sure the barrel and action are clear of obstructions.

5.      Unload firearms when not in use.

6.      Never point a firearm at anything you do not want to shoot.

7.      Never climb a fence or tree, or jump a ditch or log, with a loaded firearm.

8.      Never shoot a bullet at a flat, hard surface or water.

9.      Store firearms and ammunition separately beyond the reach of children.

10.  Avoid alcoholic beverages before or while shooting.

The hunting accident rate has been improving over past decades. In fact, the past few hunting seasons have been the safest on record when comparing the firearms accident rate. Hopefully, this trend will continue in the future. Improved hunter awareness coupled with mandatory hunter education has made a safe activity even safer.