Staying safe is underrated, but staying safe while hunting is imperative.
With Ohio's hunting season kicking off on September 1, it is important that even the most experienced hunters practice these safety tips when hunting this season.
1. Weapon Education
One of the best ways avoid injury during hunting season is to have proper training of the weapon that you will be using. This includes understanding how the safety features work, what type of ammunition you will need, etc.
2. Don't Hunt Alone
Hunting with a partner is recommended because it can lessen the chances that you'll get lost, you'll be more aware overall, and you'll have help with retrieving and loading game.
3. Tree Stand Safety
Tree stand safety is one of the leading causes for injury while hunting.
According to a study done in Georgia by the CDC, "During the 1979-1989 hunting seasons, 594 deer hunting-related injuries (including 85 fatal injuries) were reported in Georgia....Of these, 214 (36%) were tree stand-related; 17 (8%) of these were fatal."
Being safe in a tree stand is as easy as wearing a safety strap or harness.
4. Always Loaded Rule
When working with any weapon, the best rule of thumb is to assume that the weapon is always loaded. This means that whenever you are handling the gun or bow, it should be pointed in a safe direction.
5. Plan for the Weather
Since hunting season spans through March, it is important to plan for weather to ensure that you don't get hypothermia. Hypothermia can occur in cold, wet conditions -- even with temperatures as high as 50 degrees.
To avoid hypothermia while hunting, dress properly and in warm layers. Additionally, consider the following suggestions:
- Wear water-repelling outer clothing.
- Bring rain gear.
- Dry out as quickly as possible when you do get wet.
- Bring high-calorie foods (such as chocolate or peanuts) as a snack. These foods help your body get quick energy to produce warmth.
- Bring emergency supplies, including a thermal foil blanket and something to create a shelter, such as a nylon tarp.
6. Be Sure of Your Target
When aiming a weapon at another living thing, be 100 percent sure of your target. If you're only 99 percent, don't shoot. It's better than living with accidentally shooting another person.
7. Dress to Be Seen
According to the Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations:
Hunting any wild animal (except waterfowl) from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset during the youth deer gun season, deer gun season, and the deer muzzleloader season is unlawful unless the hunter is visibly wearing a vest, coat, jacket, or coveralls that are either solid hunter orange or camouflage hunter orange. This requirement applies statewide on both public and private land.
8. Be a Boy Scout
You don't actually need to be a Boy Scout, but as their motto suggests, you should always be prepared. Make sure to bring a cell phone and fire-starting kit in case of an emergency. If you anticipate there'll be rain or snow, carry both items in a water-proof baggy.
As of September 1, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) officially opens the 2018-2019 fall hunting season for Canada geese, teal, squirrel, dove, rail, snipe and gallinule with deer archery opening towards the end of the month.
ODNR officials urge all hunters to review the regulations for changes to rules, season dates, and bag limits. A full summary of Ohio's hunting and trapping regulations is available where licenses are sold, at the ODNR Division of Wildlife offices and at wildohio.gov.