No one wants to have an accident on a hunting expedition. Since navigating Michigan’s diverse terrain can be difficult at times, the last thing you not want is to find yourself injured in the woods due to a gun accident. This will not only compromise your own ability to return to civilization for help but can also make it difficult for help you make its way to you. All in all, we want to avoid gun accidents wherever possible and the key to doing so is to conduct yourself safely at all times.
All it takes is one moment of distraction for an accident to happen. You may not even have the foresight to see it coming, yet it can and it does. In fact, two Michigan hunters unfortunately had accidents in the woods recently that it is likely neither was able to anticipate. In one case a man was taking off his jacket on the first day of firearms hunting season when he dropped his semi-automatic shotgun. He was then shot in the torso in what was luckily not a fatal wound. Also on the first day of the firearms season in a separate incident, a hunter accidentally shot himself in the leg. Although no one wants to see a fellow hunter injured, when it does happen we need to look at the scenario and remind ourselves how to avoid having a similar experience in our own travels.
Since hunting is a sport that is done with many means, guns included, we need to take precautions when it comes to transporting those weapons. It is sometimes necessary to trek over perilous terrain while precariously toting these guns which in itself makes for a dangerous situation. All it takes is a single misstep to ruin your day or end your life so safe firearms handling needs to be practiced at all times. A good place to start is by practicing the following guidelines which have been set forth by the NRA regarding the handling of loaded guns:
1. Always keep guns pointed in a safe direction. Do not point them at people, dwellings, roadways, etc.
2. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire. You cannot accidentally pull a trigger if your finger is not on it, so keep your finger in a safe place such as down the barrel of your gun and outside of the trigger housing.
3. Do not load your gun until the time comes to use it. You do not want to slip and fall and have your gun go off as you’re walking through the woods to your stand or even walking across the yard getting ready to leave.
Although it is illegal for hunters to transport a loaded firearm in a motorized vehicle in the state of Michigan, it is possible to walk around with one when stalking deer. During such a time, be sure to sling your gun with the barrel pointed skyward and the safety engaged. Though some people recommend carrying it muzzle down, this poses unnecessary danger to a person walking in front of you and could result in them getting shot should you fall or you could wind up with a muzzle dangerously packed with dirt, both of which you want to avoid. Upon arriving at your shooting house or tree stand and being faced with a climb, be sure to raise and lower your gun via rope rather than attempting that climb with your gun in hand. The same applies to bows as it is very much possible to injure yourself on sharp broadheads as well; keep these in a quiver for safety purposes.
In addition to taking safety precautions while moving about, don’t forget to cover the basics. Each member of your hunting party should be well acquainted with their guns and know how to safely load and unload. It also helps to designate a person and charge them with ensuring everyone’s guns are unloaded at the end of the day when Michigan hunting hours come to a close. Remember that we as hunters have one common goal above all else and that is to go home safe, so do your part to lookout for not only yourself but those with whom you are sharing the woods this hunting season.