Safety First on the Trail

  1. christophereger
    With more than 230,000 deer harvested in the Missouri woods last season, more hunters than ever before are taking to the great outdoors of the state in search of bambi. However harvesting game is not the most important thing out there. Coming home safe is.

    Be seen

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    The last thing you ever want to be in the woods is a target. This is the reason why we wear unbroken hunters orange during hunting season is that other hunters know that the bush rustling on the edge of that hill has a Derrick inside of it and not a deer.

    The good news is that research by the University of Georgia and MSU show that deer are red-green colorblind. This means that if you wear an international orange vest over a green camo jacket, the deer just sees the vest, as a shade of grey-- so no, you don\'t stand out. Now some seasons don\'t require it (muzzleloader, etc.) but that doesn\'t mean that it isn\'t still a good idea.

    Be aware

    There is no place that paying attention is required more than in the woods during hunting season. Besides looking for deer sign, you need to be 110% aware of your surroundings and be a giant walking set of eyes and ears. This is both for your own safety and for those around you.

    Do not shoot at a target unless you are positive that it is a legal deer. Not only is this for conservation reasons, but you never know what those flashes of brown are until you take the time to find out. I can remember once upon a time several years ago a friend of a friend shot at what he just knew was a nice eight point only to track down a yellow lab at the end of the blood trail.

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    (Make sure this is the only thing you aim at)

    Do not be that guy.

    Don\'t take the woods for granted, especially if you know them like the back of your hand.
    Even if you are hunting in the same area that you have since you were a kid, be aware that the woods can constantly change. Trees can fall either due to storms, disease or logging sinkholes can develop due to heavy rains, and construction can change the landscape.

    Have company

    The first rule of the woods is never hunt alone. The second rule is read the first. Besides having the great companionship of a hunting buddy or relative with you, it increases both of your safety margins considerably. There is no situation in which having an extra set of eyes to see a problem; a set of arms to help, and a set of legs to get help won\'t hurt.

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    Even if you do wander off into the woods alone, be sure to tell someone where you are going. Give them a hunt plan with the who, what, when, and where you are going with explicit instructions on what to do with that information if they don\'t hear from you by nightfall.

    Hunters Ed

    Like every other state in the country, the Show Me State has been participating in mandatory hunter\'s education for the past several decades. Currently this course is required for any hunter born after January 1, 1967. Any student can complete these programs in a combination of both online classes and a four-hour classroom segment over age 11.

    The format of these classes covers basic firearms safety, wilderness survival, cleaning of game, and other topics that can provide a good foundation for any hunter.

    Plus, it\'s the law.

    Treestands

    Every year hunters suffer injures and death in accidents that involve their tree stands. A few simple tricks can help keep you safe in the trees. This includes getting a stand that is built for your weight (as a wide belly guy I vouch that I have personally pshaw\'d this comment and paid for it with a bruised set of ribs).

    Use a safety harness. Studies show that 82% of those injured or killed in tree stand accidents were found without a harness.

    Other tips in the stand include lowering your (unloaded) rifle, shotgun, or bow up and down to/from your stand with a length of paracord. The last thing you want is to climb into a stand with a loaded rifle on your back, have the sling slip off, and see that muzzle pointed right at your face as it heads down to the deck below. That\'s a pucker factor my friends.
    It may sound old school, but remember, safety first.

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