Hunter safety should be top of mind during hunting season. It might not be, if your mind is on the thrill of the chase, the beauty of nature, or the tasty food you plan to rustle up with your catches.
But hunter safety depends on preparation. Read through the information below and make sure you plan ahead.
The most common hunting accident
The most common source of injury among hunters is a fall from a tree stand. This is the accident that causes the largest number of injuries that take hunters to the hospital.
The International Hunter Education Association (IHEA) reports that about 500 hunters die in tree stand accidents each year, and 6,000 are injured.
Tree stand accidents can result from a poorly made tree stand, a faulty harness, or a lack of skill at climbing up and down. But the most common reason for tree stand accidents is just falling asleep and falling from the tree stand. Use of alcohol in a tree stand can contribute to this type of accident.
Be sure to read the instruction manual if you’re using a new harness system. If it’s an old harness system, check it for wear before you use it. Practice with the system on the ground before taking it up into the tree.
Unload your gun before climbing and don’t carry it when you climb. Instead, use a rope to pull your equipment up into the tree.
The basics for Arkansas hunter safety
You can take an online hunter safety course to be certified in Arkansas. A lot of the safety information you need to know for safe hunting is the same basic safety information you need for all your outdoor adventures.
- Make sure you tell someone where you’re going. Let them know when you plan to be back, too, so they’ll know when they should begin to worry if you don’t show up.
- Wear hunter orange clothing to make sure other hunters see you.
- Dress in layers appropriate for the weather.
- Know the location and terrain where you’re heading. Arkansas has some areas with rough terrain or challenging climbs. Creeping through the undergrowth before sunrise can be a wonderful experience — but that’s not when you want to suddenly happen across a waterfall.
- Take a map and a compass, and know how to use them both. It’s a good idea to visit your destination ahead of time and make sure you know the area. If you get hurt and call for help, you should be able to tell a rescuer where you are.
- Bring a buddy. It’s better to go with someone else. Two heads are better than one in an emergency, and often you can avoid an emergency by keeping an eye out for each other. If you’re just gettin your feet wet, take an experienced hunter along.
Before you go hunting, you should have enough firearm training to avoid gun accidents. In fact, these are less common hunting accidents than car crashes or drownings. However, you should memorize the classic SMART rules:
- Safe Direction: Keep your gun pointed in a safe direction at all times. Never point your gun at people, and that includes your own feet.
- Make Sure: Positively identify your target. Be certain that you know exactly what you’re aiming at.
- Always Check: Know what’s beyond your target before shooting.
- Respect Firearms: Treat all firearms as if they are loaded. If your gun is not in use, it shouldn’t be loaded. But you should still behave as though it is.
- Trigger Caution: Don’t touch the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
Hunting in Arkansas is a strong tradition and a source of pride and pleasure. Follow these suggestions to stay safe while you hunt. Should you find yourself involved in an accident, call MANA Urgent Care. Have the number and the address ready before you head out on a hunting trip, for confidence.