The beginning of October was an exciting time for bow hunters. Starting October 1st, Michigan bow hunters were able to begin their first pursuit of the hunting season. In the heat of the moment, it is easy to get caught up in overwhelming anticipation of a long awaited bow hunt, but there are still some precautions that should not be overlooked. In order to have a safe and fruitful bow season, here are some steps to your experience a safer, richer one.
Before setting out on a hunt, take the time to thoroughly check all equipment. Even equipment that has been stored is prone to failure; just because it hasn’t been actively used doesn’t mean it is impossible to return to it and find it has become broken or otherwise unsafe. Check treestands and raised platforms for signs of wear and tear or other failure points. Any signs of rust, cracks, or fraying can indicate imminent danger and should be repaired or replaced to ensure safety during future use. If the passage of time equates to your treestand no longer meeting the requirements set forth by the Treestand Manufacturers Association (TMA), it may be time to upgrade.
When entering and exiting treestands or raised platforms, be sure to always use a safety harness. This, too, should be inspected in advance of use. Always use a haul line for gear and make sure your bow is unloaded when climbing up to or down from your stand. Keep three points of contact at all times and utilize a short tether while actually in the stand. Remember that weather conditions in which precipitation may be present can lead to a slippery stand and compromised balance, so be extra cautious in these conditions.
Compound bows and crossbows also need to be inspected prior to use to ensure they are in good working order. All cables and pulleys should be checked in advance and broadheads should be sharpened and carefully packed away. Be sure to carry these safely during travel as a hunt can be easily ruined by arrows that are not properly secured during movement. Rather than risk injury to yourself or others, keep arrows in the quiver until the time comes to put them to use.
Last but not least, make your hunting plans common knowledge amongst friends and family. Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return so they will know where to send help should you become overdue. Equally important is a means of contact such as a cell phone as well as a compass, flashlight, air horn, and some emergency supplies to get you through should tragedy strike.
Although most bow hunts will likely go off without a hitch, preparing in advance as well as being cautious in the field helps ensure not only your own personal well-being but also that of others in your hunting party. This means a good, safe time can be had by all and no precious hunting time will be lost to injury. A few minutes spent getting ready ahead of time can save you weeks or even months on the sidelines down the road, so give your bow hunting gear the time it takes to keep you safe.