As bow season gives way to black powder season, I believe it important for us to talk about hunter safety, in the hope that each of us will have a safe and productive hunting season. Each year, there are cases of hunters falling from tree stands, accidental shootings and hunters suffering heart attacks. It is important that hunters think safe hunting techniques, each and every time that they enter the woods.
Number one on my list is tree stand safety. I had a wooden stand break out from under me a number of years back, and fractured my left shoulder. It is vitally important that you check the tree and the stand before climbing, each and every time that you enter the woods. If anything is not right, fix it before climbing the stand.
A dangerous moment with any tree stand is while climbing or descending the tree, or ladder. Do you lock yourself in during this time? Most people climb or descend free of their safety device. This is a dangerous practice, and extreme caution must be used each and every time you climb or descend.
In conjunction with tree stands, do you wear a full body harness? I have, ever since my accident. My problem is what will I do if I fall or something causes me to hang from my harness? There are new harnesses on the market that have lowering devices built into the harness. If you do not have one of these new harnesses, then you must have a plan before the loaded harness cuts the circulation off in you lower extremities.
Once you are safely secured in the stand, how do you get your weapon into the stand? First and foremost, the weapon must be unloaded. If you hoist a loaded weapon into your stand, you a playing Russian roulette with your life. Use caution when hoisting your weapon. Check the hoisting rope regularly and treat every gun as if it is loaded.
Let’s continue with the thread of the weapon. You must use caution when loading your weapon. Be careful to point your gun in a safe direction, when loading and after it has been loaded. You have sighted your weapon in before the season, so you know what your weapon will do when you pull the trigger. Speaking about pulling the trigger, make sure that you know what you are shooting at, and know what is beyond what you are shooting at. You are responsible for where your bullet goes. Be sure to unload your weapon before lowering it from your tree stand. With a black powder gun, unloaded is defined as the percussion or primer cap has been removed. Also, always unload your weapon in a safe place, away from people.
You have taken care of everything that will make for a safe hunt when you enter the woods. A question, does anyone know where you are hunting? In other words, not only do they know the block of woods, where they could find your vehicle, but also can they find you? Our club has a system where we put a tag on a map board, and then sign in and out in a book, describing in more detail where we are. Though I got myself out of the woods the day I fractured my shoulder, I did not have a good means of communication back then. Today, I carry my cell phone. You never know what will happen when you enter the woods. If something happens that prevents you from getting yourself out of the woods, how long will it take someone to be able to get to you?