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10 Secrets to Keep You Safe This Hunting Season

Updated on December 11, 2019
LJ Bonham profile image

LJ Bonham is a semi-subsistence hunter, hunting magazine editor, and firearms enthusiast who lives in the Rocky Mountains.

Too many hunters are injured, killed, or just go missing every year. The sad fact is, in most cases, these casualties are avoidable. With some basic preparation and common sense, you can make sure you come home with meat for the freezer, not in a body bag. Here are 10 life saving tips to insure you don't get injured or injure someone else. Remember, it's not just about you out there, your family wants you back safe and sound, too.


Always treat a firearm as loaded. Never point it at anything you do not want to destroy. This includes not using your rifle scope to scan your surroundings – use binoculars or a spotting scope.



Always positively identify your intended target. This is particularly important in low light such as dawn or dusk, heavy cloud cover, fog, snow, or rain. A common mistake is thinking you see antlers when an animal has its head down in thick brush.



Always know what’s behind your intended target. Rifle bullets often completely penetrate a game animal and can do significant damage to anything on the other side, even hundreds of yards away.


Always know where other hunters are. Even if your state does not require blaze orange outer garments during rifle season, you, and those you hunt with, should wear them – especially in thick brush or forest areas.


Never consume alcohol or drugs before, or during, hunting. Hunting while under the influence is illegal and very dangerous.


Never shoot at an animal silhouetted on a ridge. You cannot see what is on the other side of a ridge, which violates rule #3. A wounded animal will often flee down a ridge’s opposite side – away from you – and will be very difficult, or impossible, to track. It is your responsibility to recover any animal you shoot.


Always wear a safety harness when hunting from a tree stand. Numerous hunters are severely injured or killed each year falling from tree stands – protect yourself at all times.

Hunter in a Tree Stand
Hunter in a Tree Stand | Source


Never use a gun that you have not personally test fired and are familiar with. Fully inspect, test fire, and zero any “loner” guns a friend or outfitter may give you for a hunt. If the gun is a type you’ve never used before (semi-auto, for instance) get instruction from someone who is familiar with it, and spend a few hours on the firing range to make sure you are fully competent.


Always tell someone where you are going to hunt, how long you expect to be gone, and what to do if you are overdue. Do not deviate from your original plan without telling that other person about the change.


Always have basic survival equipment on your person such as fire starters, water proof clothes, compass, signal mirror, water purification, cell phone, etc., and know how to use it. This includes basic first aid skills and supplies.

A fire starting kit is essential survival equipment
A fire starting kit is essential survival equipment | Source

© 2016 LJ Bonham


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