Hunter Safety Basics
Firearm Safety Rules
- Assume every gun is loaded
- Control the muzzle. Point your gun in a safe direction
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot
- Be sure of your target and beyond
Hunter Orange Facts
Human's vision compared to a deer's vision.
Deer cannot tell red or orange from green.
While not required by law in New York State, more than 80 percent of big game hunters, as well as two out of three small game hunters, wear hunter orange.
Deer and Other Game Animals Don't See Hunter Orange
- Deer do not have red-sensitive cone cells in their eyes, and can't tell red or orange from green and brown.
- Deer have different sensitivity to various wavelengths of light than humans. Deer see short wavelength colors such as blue (and even ultra-violet, which humans cannot even see) brighter than humans do, but deer are less sensitive to longer wavelengths such as orange and red, so these colors look darker to deer.
The two hunters in this picture (one wearing camo and the
other hunter orange) are invisible to deer if they
don't move. Who would you want to be if there were another
hunter nearby, and a deer between you?
Wearing Hunter Orange Saves Lives
Hunter orange prevents other hunters from mistaking a person for an animal, or shooting in your direction.
Hunters who wear hunter orange are seven times less likely to be shot. For example, during the past ten years, not one person who was wearing hunter orange was mistaken for game and killed in New York. On the contrary, big game hunters who were involved in firearm related incidents were not wearing hunter orange.
Hunting on Tree Stands
Hunting deer from trees first became popular with bowhunters who needed to be within "spitting distance" for an effective shot. Today, many firearm hunters have also taken to the trees. Hunting from trees has advantages, but also some big disadvantages.
- View -- You can see above the brush in some situations.
- Scent -- Your scent will drift over very close deer -- If they approach from the right direction.
- Concealment -- Deer don't often look up, so tree stands put you above their line of sight -- If they are very close.
- No mobility -- You can't move for a better look or to get a shot.
- Conspicuous -- From a distance, deer can see you without looking up. A hunter in a tree is conspicuous, especially if he or she moves.
- Heavy equipment -- Transporting tree stands and climbing equipment can involve some serious work.
- Dangerous -- Serious injuries and deaths from tree stand falls are increasingly common.
Tree Stand Safety Tips
Hunter using safety straps
Even with disadvantages and hazards, tree stands are popular and productive, especially for bowhunters. If you do choose to use one, here are some tips to help get the most out of your arboreal hunting experience.
- Hunt deer, not trees. Find the deer first. Look for trails, droppings, feeding and bedding areas and other deer signs, then find a tree within easy shooting range that will put you in a good location relative to the wind.
- Use a sturdy, portable stand. Permanent stands nailed into trees are dumb and deadly. They give away your secret hunting spots to anybody who sees them. They are difficult to move when deer change their trails a few feet. Ugly boards and spikes that ruin chain saws make landowners mad. The worst is that they rot. Weakened wooden steps and stands kill and cripple hunters. Even pressure treated wood gets a dangerous slippery growth.
- Know the rules. On state lands, it is illegal to place nails or other hardware into trees, or to build permanent structures, such as tree stands, platforms and blinds. On private lands, it is illegal to cut or remove trees or other plants, or to cut limbs or damage bark (such as from putting up blinds or tree stands, or cutting shooting lanes or trails) without the landowner's permission.
- Don't go too high. Remember that the higher you go, the smaller the vital zone on a deer becomes. And the likelihood of a serious injury escalates if you fall from high up. Usually, 15 to 20 feet is high enough.
- Use a safety belt for climbing. Most falls happen when going up and down the tree, and in and out of the stand. Good commercial climbing belts are available.
- Never try to carry guns or bows up and down trees. They get in the way of safe climbing; they get dropped; and climbing with guns can result in hunters shooting themselves. Always use a rope to raise and lower bows and guns -- Unloaded.
- As soon as you get in a tree stand -- strap in. A body harness is better than a plain safety belt, but a belt is a whole lot better than nothing. If you just have a safety belt, attach it high - around your chest - to avoid injury from the belt if you fall. A short tether connecting you to the tree to prevent a fall is safer than a long one to catch you after a fall. Also, a short tether can make you a better shot. It lets you concentrate on shooting instead of balancing.
Fitness For Hunters
Did you know every hunting season is marred by a rash of heart attacks? Heart attacks take a higher toll than careless hunting practices. Walking while carrying gear, spotting and shooting at a deer and dragging a carcass can cause more stress than the heart can handle. That's especially true if you are not physically active, smoke, have high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol or other health problems.
If you don't exercise regularly, the unaccustomed excitement and exertion in the field can be dangerous. It's a good idea to start building up your endurance before hunting season. But you don't have to train like a marathon runner. Any activity that gets you moving around, even if it's just a few minutes each day, can start strengthening your heart and lungs.
Choose an activity you enjoy and get a partner or pet to join you, such as:
Change up your every day habits, such as:
- Parking your car a distance from work, or getting off the bus early to walk the rest of the way
- Taking the stairs rather than the elevator
- Walk around the block during lunch breaks
Below are some activity facts and tips from the NYS Department of Health:
- The Surgeon General recommends 30 minutes of physical activity five or more times a week.
- Regular physical activity helps reduce fatigue and manage stress.
- Walking is a simple, easy way to strengthen your heart and lungs, tone muscles and generally improve fitness.
- Brisk walking burns up to 440 calories an hour.
- Walking 3 mph burns 250 to 315 calories per hour. You can lose a pound of fat by burning 3,500 calories.
- Decide what your body can do comfortably. If you have been inactive, proceed slowly and build up.
- Before brisk walking warm up for 5 to 7 minutes by stretching and light walking.
- Wear shoes that are cushioned and provide support.
- Before starting a fitness program, seek your doctor's advice, especially if you have medical problems or are over 45 and not regularly active.
Make healthful, low-fat meal choices. The NYS Department of Health recommends eating at least five fruits and vegetables a day and drinking non-fat (skim) or low fat (1 percent) milk.