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The Killer Pocket: An Ammo Safety Public Service Announcement

There are plenty of ways to get injured while you’re out in the hunting fields, and this ammo safety tip can go a long way.

A hunter can get snarled up in a barbed wire fence, fall off a cliff, get attacked by a bear or even wreck his or her car on the way to the trailhead. Like any form of recreation that takes place outside the controlled environment of a sports stadium, hunting presents its own set of pitfalls.

By and large we hunters take these dangers in stride and consider them reasonable risks for the profit we enjoy from long days away from the settled life, whether in the woods or on the plains. We realize that we can’t live a life completely devoid of danger and every intelligent person takes the time to minimize these risks.

We’re careful crossing the fence, watch out for cliffs and grizzlies and we wear our seat belts. We take the time to be careful and watchful for those little things in life that can hurt us, but have you ever considered how dangerous the pocket of your coat can be?

Every year, somewhere, a shooter gets the wrong ammunition into the chamber of their gun, often resulting in a blown-up firearm and physical damage to the shooter.

I recently heard the sad tale of a fellow who slipped a .308 Winchester into the chamber of a .270 Winchester. He touched the round off and discovered that a .308 bullet refuses to get forced down a .277 barrel; the gas and pieces of the case have to go somewhere in a situation like that.

In this instance they came back toward the shooter’s face and the guy lost an eye. This shooter was not a young, inexperienced beginner, but was instead an older man who had decades of trigger time under his belt.

He was perfectly aware that a .308 in a .270 chamber was a recipe for disaster. His only fault was having a .308 in the midst of a bunch of .270’s in his coat pocket, and then not noticing the discrepancy before it was too late.

Over the years, as my gun collection has grown, I’ve gotten more careful about my ammunition. Back when I only owned a 30-06 and had only 30-06 ammunition around, there was a good chance that an ‘06 round could be found in the pocket of any given piece of clothing.

When I started adding other calibers to the mix, I realized what a bad habit that was. While keeping track of your ammunition is primarily a safety concern and an important step in avoiding the situation mentioned above, there are also a lot of plain old practical reasons for keeping your ammo in containers until you head out to shoot or hunt.

RELATED: Pentagon Plans to Destroy Ammo Stockpile Worth $1.2 Billion

For starters, ammo isn’t cheap. If you’ve got five rounds in the pocket of some old shirt, you may not see them for years and won’t have them when you need them.

My personal bad habit (I’m currently in a support group) is piling up ammo in my hunting pack. I’ll start the season going after gophers with a 32-20, move onto birds with a 16 gauge, chase deer with a 44 Magnum and wind things up hunting elk with a .348 Winchester. When Christmas comes around and I’m cleaning out my pack, I often discover that I’ve been carrying around ten pounds of ammo I hadn’t required since August.

To make a long story less long, it’s best to put your rounds back in the box and back in your ammo cache when you get back home. This is a simple habit that will save you some money, save you some sweat and may even save your eyes.

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The Killer Pocket: An Ammo Safety Public Service Announcement