Five easy steps to hunting safety

Hunter education courses are urged for young hunters in South Carolina. Photo courtesy of S.C. DNR

Hunter education courses are urged for young hunters in South Carolina.
Photo courtesy of S.C. DNR

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer,

As summer finally starts to wind down and cool temperatures return, many a local hunter’s thoughts turn to deer hunting. If you are among the many sportsmen – and women – with deer fever, remember to temper your enthusiasm with a healthy dose of precaution. Here are five great tips for hunting safety that can make a hunting trip far safer and a lot more fun for everybody.

Tip # 1- Practice gun safety. When handling any gun, treat it as if it is loaded – always. Keep the gun’s action open and only load ammunition when you are ready to use it. Keep the gun pointed away from others in your hunting party, preferably aiming it at the ground with your finger off the trigger and the safety on. If you are planning to hunt from a deer stand or a tree, use a hoist to lift the unloaded gun up to your perch. Likewise, use the hoist to lower the unloaded gun before you climb down. When you have game in your sights, always be sure of your target and what lies beyond it. Never take a shot until you are sure it is safe.

Tip # 2 – Take care in the air. Deer stands and secure tree perches are useful for getting a good view and avoiding detection by deer, but the small surface area in most stands requires constant awareness to avoid a nasty fall back to earth. A fall arrest system (tethering your body to the tree) can provide an extra measure of safety just in case you lose your footing – or nod off after too many quiet hours and too little coffee.

Tip # 3 – Wear safety orange. Though it’s not a flattering color on most people, the legally required safety orange (also called blaze orange or hunter orange) is your best bet for hunting attire. Whether you are in public woods or on private land, keep in mind that you’re almost certainly not the only hunter stalking through the trees, and safety orange is the brightest and quietest way to let other hunters know you’re a human being. Vests and hats are a good combo, keeping your range of motion free and your noggin warm. And don’t wear your orange until it fades; replace old safety garments with bright new ones to ensure effectiveness. Toting a flashlight is also a good idea, especially if you might end up hunting into the evening.

Tip # 4 – Don’t hunt alone. Hitting the trail with a buddy immediately increases your safety factor, since they can provide help or fetch assistance if you are injured. Navigating through unfamiliar terrain is also easier if you have someone helping to keep notes and keep your bearings. Sharing the experience of hunting with friends and family can be very rewarding and educational, but if you must go out as a lone wolf, at least notify someone where you’ll be hunting and when you expect to return.

Tip # 5 – Keep it legal. Make sure your licenses are up to date and everyone in your hunting party has completed a hunter education course – especially the youngsters. All South Carolina residents and non-residents born after June 30, 1979 must complete a hunter ed course before a license can be issued. You can complete this requirement with a free, 8-hour instructor-led class or by taking an online self-study course. For more information on hunter education courses, or to learn more about hunting and fishing in South Carolina, visit SCDNR’s website at

Author: Duane Childers

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