Considerations for a Safer Hunting Season
While you are preparing for the pursuit of both big and small game, remember that your safety and the safety of others in the woods is paramount to a successful hunting season.
West Virginia is blessed (and perhaps cursed) with uneven, rocky and sometimes slippery terrain, the most common injuries in the woods are due to slips, trips and falls. Be vigilant when walking through the woods to ensure secure footing. Check that your footwear is appropriate and in good condition to provide grip and stability.
More specifically, the most common cause of serious injury while hunting is falling from elevated stands. Always wear a hunter safety harness while climbing into the stand, hunting from it and climbing down.
The number of accidental firearm fatalities related to hunting has declined significantly over the last few decades. However, hunters still need to be vigilant while hunting with a firearm and even archery equipment. Remember to treat every firearm as if it were loaded. While hunting, keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, keep the safety on and keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
Always clearly identify your target and what is beyond that target. Bullets can travel a long distance, so make sure that it is safe to shoot in the direction in which you are aiming.
Use caution when crossing fences, downed logs or streams to ensure a safe transition across obstacles. And, always unload your firearm before climbing into or out of a stand or blind.
It is always a good idea to let someone know where you will be hunting and what time you expect to return. Make sure your clothing is appropriate for the weather and carry water to stay hydrated. Brush up on the current hunting regulations and wear your hunter orange when required.
Make a habit of implementing simple safety actions regardless of your level of experience in the field. Go hunting and have fun, but remember that safety must come first.
Author: Sheldon Owen, WVU Extension Wildlife Specialist
Last Reviewed: October 2021