There is a chill in the air and the leaves are changing color. That means it must be hunting season again! It doesn’t matter if your game of choice is deer, turkey, or black bear, we have some basic safety tips to help keep your hunting party safe!

Be sure to dress in bright colors.

If you have anyone accompanying you on the hunt, especially children or pets, make sure they are dressed in bright colors such as orange. This will increase their visibility and make it less likely that they will be mistaken for game. On the flip side, always be sure of your target and even more importantly what’s behind it.

When you make your plan for your hunting trip, write it down.

The plan should be short and simple, including things like approximately where you will be hunting and what time you plan to be back. Leave a copy with a family member or friend and leave a second copy on the front seat of your car. If something happens, your plan will give people a better idea of where to start looking for you. 

Before riding in any vehicles, always unload your firearms.

If you are using an ATV or similar utility vehicle during hunting, after your firearm is unloaded, put on your helmet. Even on private property, it is safest if everybody, no matter their age or experience, wears a properly fitted helmet.

Falls from tree stands are common and can result in very serious and even life-altering injuries.

Before using a stand, be sure to read all the direction. Practice climbing to the stand and using the provided safety devices before the start of the season. Many hunting organizations recommend use of a full body harness or a fall-arrest system to protect you from fall-related injuries. These harnesses should be used even when climbing in and out of the tree stand.

When in the field, treat every gun as if it’s loaded.

Even if the safety is on, keep the muzzle directed away from people and pets. When you return home, safely secure your weapons where they cannot be accessed by children or other unauthorized people. Safe storage practices include storing your firearms unloaded, with a gun lock or in a safe, and separately from ammunition.

Take a Stop the Bleed course.

From wild animals to slipping and tripping down a mountain, you never know what accidents could happen. In Vermont, the availability of cell phone reception could be questionable depending on your location. It is important to learn the skills that allow you to identify and control potentially life threatening bleeding before going hunting. Sign up for a free Stop the Bleed class today!

Abby Beerman is an injury prevention coordinator at University of Vermont Medical Center and Children’s Hospital and Mike Ploesser is a retired service manager from Milton, Vermont with over 60 years of experience hunting.

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