LINCOLN, Neb. – Hunters should commit themselves to staying safe in the field, as the next few weeks will see the start of many hunting seasons, such as dove, early teal and archery deer.
Nebraska Hunter Education Coordinator Jackson Ellis says hunter safety involves the use of hunter orange, firearm rules and proper preparation.
Firearm safety rules
Many dove and teal hunts are in a group setting with friends and family. Be sure to know where everyone is located. Establish shooting lanes and do not swing your firearm outside of your safe zone of fire. Be in constant communication with your group.
Ellis said nearly all firearm incidents can be prevented by following four rules:
• Control the muzzle, ensuring that a firearm never is pointed in an unsafe direction.
• Keep your finger out of the trigger guard and away from the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
• Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
• Be sure of your target, and what is beyond it.
“Whether you miss your target or the bullet travels through it, be sure that your target has a safe backstop behind it to stop the bullet,” Ellis said. “Never shoot a rifle at sky-lined game, or toward water, a roadway, house or feedlot, or at sounds or movement through brush. Make sure to identify your target as legal game before aiming and shooting.”
Tree stand safety rules
Many archers choose to hunt deer from an elevated position for a multitude of reasons, but these heights do include some necessary safety precautions.
• Don’t hang stands alone; bring a friend or family member to help.
• Ensure that your straps connecting the stand and ladder to the tree are in good shape and aren’t frayed or torn.
• Always wear a safety harness (fall arrest system) when hanging stands and hunting. Read the instructions and make sure the harness is sized correctly. Use a Life Line to ensure you’re connected from the time you first step off the ground until you return.
• Use a haul line to bring your bow or firearm into the tree after you climb up and get situated. Never climb with your bow or firearm in your hands.
• Always use the “three-points-of-contact” rule when climbing the tree.