For many seniors, hunting is a nostalgic hobby, something they did with a parent or friend growing up. For others, it’s an excuse to enjoy the outdoors and some time to themselves. You may even enjoy the sense of achievement or like the meat it can provide. Whatever your reason, it’s critical to hunt safely.
Each year, hundreds of Americans and Canadians are injured badly enough while hunting that they have to report it, with around 100 people dying from those injuries. Do your part in keeping yourself off that list by following all our senior safety guidelines while you’re out hunting.
1. Follow Gun Safety Tips
Of all the aspects of hunting, the weapon you carry is the most dangerous. Whenever you hold a gun, you should treat it with the respect and care that something with killing power deserves. This means you should follow all safety guidelines involved in gun ownership and use, including responsible and safe storage when not being used. When you’re out hunting, make sure you follow these five golden rules for safe gun handling.
- Always treat a gun as though it is loaded.
- Always point the gun in a safe direction and away from people.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you intend to fire.
- Always know what’s beyond your target in case you miss or the bullet breaks through the target.
- Wear protective eye and hearing gear.
2. Follow Hiking Safety Tips
Unless you’re hunting in your backyard, you’ll likely be hiking through the wilderness at least for a little while. In many ways, you could think of hunting as hiking with another goal. For this reason, you should plan to be safe while you’re hiking. Not sure how to do that? Follow our hiking tips as you plan your hike and trek through the wilderness.
3. Take a Hunting Safety Course
While hunting has become an incredibly safe sporting activity in the United States, this is largely through education. To keep this trend rolling along, continued education is key. If you haven’t taken a hunting safety course or it’s been a while since you took one, it may be a good idea to see what’s available in your area.
Courses generally cover responsible behavior, firearm safety, outdoor safety, hunting techniques, and more. Basically, you’ll get a hands-on education for everything we promote in this post. Different states, municipalities, and hunting club classes will be at different costs (some are even free!). Sometimes, online courses are available if you can’t attend in person.
4. Be Certain of Your Target & Surroundings
One of the most important rules to follow when you’re hunting is to positively identify your target before you fire. Each year, we hear about tragedies of someone being shot because they were mistaken for an animal. This can be prevented by only firing once you know for a fact that the target is what you’re intending to shoot.
Taking this a step further, you should be aware of the surroundings of your target. Know what’s behind and around your target in case you miss, the bullet splinters, or if it passes through. This can further prevent accidental injuries.
5. Wear High-Visibility Clothing
Another way to prevent accidental shootings is to make sure you’re wearing high-visibility clothing. This is generally the reason for those bright orange vests that many hunters wear. The color is clearly distinguishable in nature, even in the early evening, and isn’t common in other animals. At a glance, other hunters know this color signifies a non-target (either another hunter or pet).
Anyone that is with you should also be wearing high-visibility clothing, especially if you’re bringing a hunting dog. This marks them as a pet and not game. While people aren’t out hunting dogs, in the heat of the moment and in less-than-ideal settings, a dog can be mistaken for another animal.
6. Communicate with & Respect Fellow Hunters
You can further protect yourself and others by openly communicating with any hunters you’re sharing the area with, either by walkie-talkie or verbally. Establish where you’ll be and where they’ll be so you’re not firing toward each other or firing on the same animal. This is especially critical if you’re hunting on public land since you may not always know every hunter in the area. This can also prevent arguments that can lead to tragedy if things get too heated. Remember, you’re sharing the forest, so always be respectful to each other.
7. Maintain Your Equipment for Safety
Maintaining your equipment is less about what to do while you’re hunting and more about before and after. It’s still important, though, because improperly cared for equipment can still be dangerous. If you don’t know how to clean a gun, you can get it serviced so that it runs properly. Take time to check on any other equipment you rely on, especially anything related to a tree stand. Since a tree stand has you so high up, if it’s unstable or unsecured, you could fall or hurt yourself. Tree stand safety and maintenance are critical to preventing the most common hunting-related injury.
8. Don’t Go It Alone
Like with hiking, when hunting, you should never be in the wilderness without someone knowing where you are. It’s a good idea to hunt with a friend or family member. It can be a nice bonding time, and it can help keep you safe in case there’s an emergency. If you’re hunting on your own, at least tell someone where you’ll be and when you plan to come back. If there is an emergency and you get stuck in the forest, this can signal to someone that you need help. Unfortunately, you can’t always rely on phone signals.
9. Be Sober
If you’re in the woods hunting, don’t drink or take any kinds of drugs. You’re carrying a weapon and may be around other hunters. Being sober while hunting is a no brainer.
10. Be Healthy Enough & Have a Plan
As we suggested in our hiking tips post, you should make sure you’re healthy enough to go out hunting. Depending on your fitness level, you can plan your hunt in different ways. You can use an all-terrain vehicle to get to your tree stand or place your hunting area closer to where you park. Alternatively, you can plan to give yourself more time to arrive at your stand, allowing you to rest. You may also want to use a ground blind so you don’t have to climb into the tree. Whatever option you go with, it may be a good idea to see your doctor to cover any concerns you may have before going out hunting.
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Mankind has been hunting since the very beginning. Though we don’t need to hunt for food as much anymore, hunting can be a relaxing hobby that focuses the mind and improves the body. If you’re a senior who wants to keep hunting, you must continue to hunt safely. By following these tips, you can help ensure that you and everyone you’re sharing the woods with stay safe.