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Keep safe while enjoying the thrill of the hunt

Published in For the Health of It Author: Melissa Hjelle

Injury Prevention Specialist
CentraCare Health

Safety tips for non-hunters

If you are not hunting but out-and-about in rural areas during hunting season, keep the following safety tips in mind:

  • Know when hunting seasons are. Educate yourself about when and where hunting is taking place.
  • Wear bright colors to make yourself more visible and if your dog is accompanying you, get him or her an orange vest, too.
  • Make noise, whistle, sing or carry on a conversation, so hunters are aware of your presence.
  • And if you do come across a hunter, be courteous. Don’t make unnecessary noise to disturb the wildlife.

Deer hunting firearm season begins this weekend in Minnesota. Regardless of what you hunt and whether you prefer rifles, bow hunting or muzzleloaders — it can be a great time to spend with friends and family. But you always should keep some safety tips in mind — regardless of how much experience you have.

One of my close friends, Scott, who is a very experienced hunter, once fell from his tree stand. His resulting life-threatening injuries required him to be airlifted for emergency medical care and observation. Fortunately, Scott was fine and he continues to be an avid hunter today. But according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Scott is hardly alone. It’s estimated that 1 in 3 people who hunt from an elevated stand will fall resulting in a serious injury.

The best way to prevent a fall is to wear a safety harness — also known as a fall arrest system — when in a tree stand and when climbing in or out of it. A safety strap should be attached to the tree to prevent you from falling more than 12 inches. And you always should follow the instructions for your harness and inspect it for signs of wear or damage before each use.

Here are some other hunting safety reminders to keep in mind:

  • Have a game plan and, if possible, hunt with a buddy. Even if you have a cell phone, prior to starting your hunt — let others know your location, when you plan to return and who you are with.
  • Wear orange clothing to make yourself visible. During firearms deer season, the state requires that the visible portion of your cap and outer clothing above the waist (not counting sleeves and gloves) must be blaze orange.
  • Carry safety devices — such a cell phone, whistle, walkie-talkie, signal flare or flashlight — on you at all times and within reach. These items need to be with you while you are in your tree stand.
  • When climbing a ladder, follow the 3-Point Rule. That means ALWAYS lean forward and maintain 3 points of contact (like two hands and one foot) while climbing. And be cautious that rain, frost, ice or snow can cause your ladder’s steps to become slippery.
  • Know your limits and don’t take chances. If you start thinking about how high you are in your tree stand, don’t go any higher. The recommended height for most elevated tree stands is less than 10 feet off the ground.
  • Always use a haul line to pull up your gear and unloaded firearm or bow to your tree stand. Never climb will full hands.
  • Don’t forget the three basic rules of firearms handling. Treat each firearm as if it is loaded. Always control the muzzle of your firearm. And be sure of your target and what is beyond.

For more information: Visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website for more information on hunting safety and current regulations.