Knowing what not to do while in the woods can be as important as knowing what to do. Here are 10 hunting mistakes you definitely want to avoid.
Statistically, hunting is safer than most other sports. You are more likely to be injured on the football field than in the woods. Many possible injuries may be all together eliminated by keeping in mind these 10 things you should never do while hunting:
#10. Keeping a loaded hunting weapon in your vehicle.
Not only can this cause problems of unintentional discharge while loading, or unloading the loaded weapon from the vehicle, in many states it is illegal to have a loaded weapon in a vehicle.
#9. Not unloading your weapon before crossing a fence or other obstacle where footing is tricky.
If you slip, where does the muzzle go, and where does your trigger finger go? Play it safe, and unload the gun.
If hunting with a friend, unnload the gun and hand it to them, action open.
If you are alone:
- Unload the gun.
- Leave the action open.
- Set the weapon down.
- Cross obstacles such as a barb wired fence.
- Carefully pick up the unloaded weapon with an open action, and point it with the muzzle facing away from you.
#8. Not having awareness of where other hunters are in relation to you.
This is a big one. Keep your eyes and ears open to other people in the woods and give them space. Never crowd other hunters. If there is an issue, find a new location. If they are your hunting party, have strict guidelines of where everyone will be located. Wear blaze hunter orange if you can. Never, ever, shoot at sounds.
#7. Wearing materials other than cotton in cold weather.
It gets damp, and you will be cold and miserable wearing materials other than cotton. Stick to wools or modern materials that will keep you warm when wet.
#6. Not having extra ammunition, or incorrect ammunition.
Mismatched shotgun shells can be dangerous. A twenty gauge shell will easily drop into a twelve gauge barrel, and then allow a twelve gauge shell to fire into that shell. Only bring ammunition for the weapon you are carrying. Don’t mix it up. The same goes with rifle and pistol ammunition.
#5. Forgetting snacks, water, and necessary medication.
If you have medical conditions, this is very important to adhere to. Stay hydrated and fueled. You will feel better and will stay sharp, improving your hunt as a result.
#4. Carelessly pointing your muzzle.
I have brought a hunt to a grinding halt, even with friends, due to this one. Do not let anyone’s firearm muzzle point at you or swing towards you and make sure you watch yours too!
#3. Not dressing for the weather.
You might be uncomfortable being over-dressed, or under-dressed. Hyperthermia, with the body overheating, being over-dressed can happen, and hypothermia, with the body under-heated, may happen. Watch the local weather before you head out, and dress in layers. Avoid sweating if at all possible. This will cause evaporation and make you cold. Shed that heavy coat.
#2. Not having emergency gear on hand.
Matches, a space blanket, and an emergency poncho take up little room. Yes, bring your phone, just turn it off if you do not want to be disturbed. These items just might save your life if you get stuck out overnight.
#1. Keeping your finger on the trigger!
This is by far the number one rule above all else. Unless you are about to fire at game, keep that finger outside of the trigger guard. My biggest pet peeve is seeing photographs of people with fingers on the triggers while posing with game. This is a sure sign of an amateur hunter.
Do not be that amateur.
Hunting is a safe sport if you keep in mind the above lessons.