Gun safety can be a hot button issue, but no matter which side of the argument you fall on, there are a few things that most of us can agree on. For example, most can agree that gun safety is important and proper gun safety can save lives. During hunting season, it is especially important to make sure that all firearms are stored and handled properly. It's also important for those without firearms to exercise caution and best safety practices when enjoying the great outdoors.
Storing Firearms Safely
Properly storing and securing your firearms is the first responsibility of any gun owner. To make sure your firearms are secure, there are a couple different precautions that need to be taken. For example, never store a gun while it's loaded. Bullets should also be stored in a separate, secure location, not with the firearm. It's also important to make sure that when you're putting your gun away, it's stored with the safety on - yes, even unloaded - in order to avoid accidental misfires in the event that it's bumped, knocked over, or otherwise disturbed. It's strongly encouraged that any gun owner invest in a secure gun safe in which their firearms can be safely stored under the protection of a combination lock.
Safe Gun Handling
When a firearm is removed from its secure location, say for a hunting trip or to be cleaned, it is important that every precaution to ensure the safety of those handling the gun and those within the vicinity. Making sure that the gun's safety is engaged is essential to this end; unless the gun is being prepared to be discharged, the safety should be engaged. The muzzle of the gun should also always be pointing downward; never up or outward in case the firearm discharges. When not in use, the firearm should remain securely in it's carrying case, be it a plastic case or a fabric, over-the-shoulder case, it should be secure in order to eliminate the risk of misfire.
Proper Gun Maintenance
Properly caring for and cleaning your firearm is essential to ensuring that it operates properly and safely. Regularly cleaning, lubricating, and taking steps to prevent rust are all parts of basic gun care and will keep your gun ready for your next hunting trip. Failure to properly care for your firearm may lead to several issues that affect its ability to discharge properly. For example, if your gun isn't cleaned it may suffer from metal or powder build up, ultimately affecting the accuracy of the firearm.
It is also important not to alter a gun once it has been manufactured. Commercial gun manufacturers are highly skilled and the make of each model produced is put through rigorous testing prior to it being made available to consumers. For this reason and to ensure the safety and integrity of the firearms, gun owners should refrain from modifying their firearms. It is understood that hunters may need to add a scope or other compatible accessories in order for optimal performance, but things like sawing off part of a gun barrel are strongly advised against.
Safe Hunting Practices
Being safe while hunting is critical and complex. Personal safety measures may include wearing bright, often orange, reflective material in order to distinguish yourself from your surrounding and make you easily visible to other hunters that might be nearby. In order to make sure you're hunting in safe, regulated areas, it's important that you be aware of your surroundings and pay close attention to any posted signs indicating private or prohibited property. Hunters should also have a clear plan on where they intend to hunt and let a loved one know where they'll be in the event of an emergency; it's important that, say you're injured, a loved one be able to contact the authorities and notify them of where you're likely to be. One should avoid going hunting alone, rather, it's best practice to bring along at least one other person, in the event one needs to go out and find immediate medical attention. So grab a buddy before heading out on your next hunt; you may be thankful to have them in the event of an emergency.
How to Stay Safe in the Woods
It's important to note that it's not only hunters that ones that enjoy exploring the woods during the various seasons. Outdoorsmen and women may also be out in your neck of the woods for a walk, run, or cycle. For this reason, it's important that hunters and those carrying firearms always be alert and safe. Anyone out in the woods should follow similar practices as hunters and dress in clothing that makes one easily noticeable and reduces the risk of being mistaken for an animal or otherwise startle an armed hunter.