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Hunting and Firearm Safety

80 Percent Arms   |   Mar 17th 2022

Whether you prefer to hunt fowl across wide open spaces, boar in the thickets, or white tail deer... one factor, above all, is most important when considering what makes a successful hunt. That factor is safety. The same firearm safety rules that apply to the range and gun ownership in general don't suddenly disappear when you go into the wild to hunt.

You may be thinking gun safety is common sense. That's true, but it depends on the experience level of whom is holding said gun. Guns are dangerous; that's a feature, not a bug. So it's imperative we all do our parts to minimize the risks that come with using these tools. Common sense may not be as common as you think but thanks to the spread of gun safety knowledge, it’s making a comeback.

In recent years, a study from the National Safety Council showed firearms related accidents while hunting has declined by 50.5%. In 1997, the number of hunting fatalities was 981 people in the United States. Twenty years later, that number dropped to 486 in 2017 which is incredibly substantial! But it's not perfect, especially when we as responsible users have the ability within ourselves to bring that number to zero.

The 4 Basic Rules of Firearms Safety

Strap in, you’re going to be hearing this repeated several times, but it is paramount to setting a strong foundation of safety.

Rule 1 – ALWAYS keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction.

Rule 2 – Treat every gun as if it were loaded.

Rule 3 – Know your target and what is beyond or behind it.

Rule 4 – Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

If you want to take a deeper look at these rules, check out our previous blog on the matter regarding  The 4 Essential Rules of Firearm Safety.

Common Necessities for Every HunterCamo Clothing for Hunting

Two hunters in "Real Tree" Camouflage while on a hunt. (Photo Source: Unsplash - Rhett Noonan)

When heading out in the field for a day or a week long hunt there are several items all hunters should carry besides their primary hunting weapon.

A Good Knife - One essential aspect of the hunt is the ability to harvest the meat of your game animal. Carrying a sharp and reliable knife is the only way to achieve this. Now, you don’t need to go full Rambo and carry the biggest knife in the world, you need one that is sharp and easy to maneuver. One such knife is the Outdoor Edge 3.5 in RazorLite Knife that comes with multiple pre-sharpened blades for a quick change out to keep you going.

First Aid - It is not likely necessary or realistic to carry a full trauma kit out in the thickets on every hunt, but a small pouch with the essentials could save your life in a worst case kind of day. Something like the EverLit Trauma Kit has the basic essentials for first aid and overnight inclement weather survival. It is a small package that can hook right to your belt for convenience of carry.

Communication Devices - Hunting is a great opportunity to get away from the noise of everyday life, taking a cellphone on a hunt is like bringing that noise with you. That is until you need a way to communicate in moments of distress. Having a modern smartphone is not only having a means of communication but also a basic flashlight, map and a compass all in one. If you know where you're going, and you should know beforehand, it wouldn’t hurt to download a map on your phone just in case. If you are going to a place that has spotty or absolutely zero reception, it might be wise to purchase or rent a satellite phone for that trip. You can purchase a phone and a plan at the Satellite Phone Store or a dozen other places on the internet.

Dress for the Hunt - There is about a 50/50 the weather is going to change its mind in the middle of the trip, anyone who has ever been hunting knows it can go from sunny to pouring rain or from warm to freezing in what seems like a blink of an eye. The clothing you choose is your first and likely only defense if you are planning on staying in the field for long durations of time. If you are going to an area that is often cold, wear several layers of warm clothing. You can easily put back on what you took off but if you don't have what you need to begin with you will get uncomfortable quickly. The same goes for wet locations, water resistant clothing is always necessary in your pack and on your feet. You may want to check out Gore-Tex clothing line before setting off on your next hunt, if they don’t have it, it probably doesn’t exist.

Personal Safety

While on the topic of personal safety measures, let's look at a few other ways to stay safe before, during, and after the hunt.

Why ‘Hi Vis’ Is Important

Orange can be visible from far distances even if it's only part of your clothing. (Photo Source: Unsplash - Fredrik Ohlander)

Just because something is not necessarily required by law doesn’t mean it isn’t a safe bet to practice it anyway. Take the use of blaze orange clothing, some states require it all season, some only during big game firearms seasons, while others don’t require it at all. If you are not sure what your state requires, click here for Blaze Orange Regulations for Every State and check. Even if your state doesn’t require it, think about this, your game animal likely isn’t going to see an orange hat on your head but on the flip side a hunter on the other side of a mountain range might not be completely responsible in taking shots and when they see a dark figure creeping across a ridgeline that orange hat or vest may keep you from taking fire. Mistaken identity is a list topper when it comes to hunting mishaps.

Safely Secure Firearms

Practicing safe storage of firearms is top priority when not in use. In your home the preferred method would be a safe, but that may not always be within our budget or even practical for a single gun house to have a 20+ gun safe. For a single firearm you could use a product like the V770 Single Rifle Vault Case from Pelican or the Winchester 12 Gun Safe just to secure your firearm and any other valuables. If you do not have a safe but have children, high up and hidden are typically safest, when they can’t see it or reach it the risk of serious injury significantly drops. Sometimes children find a way to do what they want, so to reduce the risk even further you may want to put ammunition in a separate location.

Traveling to the Hunt

We will touch on traveling with a firearm in vehicles at length in another blog, but in the meantime let's quickly touch on driving with a gun for hunting. It’s not practical, safe, or necessary to have your rifle in the driver's seat while heading down the highway, there are better options for that. What is important is that you get to your destination safely and legally. Take a look at the Travel Guide for Gun Owners published by US Law Shield. It has information about all modes of travel and is downloadable so you can save it on your phone.

Let's refer to the 4 rules of firearm safety and safe storage of firearms for this one. Having a rifle or shotgun case, like a Heavy Duty Scoped Rifle Case, is a great way to prevent damage to your firearm but it's also a great way to make sure your gun is not mishandled or accidentally loaded by keeping your firearm secured and separate from your ammunition.

Hunter Safety System

The obvious assumption might be that trigger discipline is essential to firearm safety while hunting. There’s actually one aspect of hunting that holds the title above firearms for the most hunting related injuries, not necessarily fatalities but still severe if not deadly, that title goes to falling. Most hunters know tree stands need to be set up at a height around a minimum of 20 feet. Falling from that height can and often does cause serious injuries.

Most stand manufacturing companies sell their products with a hunter safety system included in the package. The hunter safety system is more than just a harness for sitting, they are to be used while climbing to anchor to the tree or frame while ascending and descending from your seat. Not only do you need to secure yourself but your firearm as well.

Never climb with your rifle or shotgun slung over your shoulder or in your hands, tether it with a rope long enough to reach from your seat to the ground, then you can draw it up once you are securely seated. Along with tethering your firearm, make sure a cartridge is not chambered when you are pulling your rifle up or lowering it down the tree with the muzzle likely pointed to the sky, that’s where you are!

A Safe Hunt is a Successful Hunt

No matter what your goal was at the start of the hunt, to bag that big bragging-rite trophy or to fill up the freezer to avoid those high grocery bills, even if you return home empty handed at least you were safe and able to return home. Always practice the 4 rules of firearms, keeping that sense of awareness is key to keeping you and others enjoying the sport of hunting safe. If you are in the market for a Varmint or Big Game rifle or you’re looking for a sidearm for a backup, check out our upper and lowers build kits. The AR15 chambered in 5.56 or .300 BLK can get you that coyote squatting in the cornfield or that whitetail hiding in the briar patch. If you’re looking out across a prairie at a stubborn Pronghorn that just won’t get any closer, an AR platform chambered in .308 or 6.8 SPC can help you out.

Build Your Next Hunting Rifle with an 80 lower Today!

Each one of us has someone in our lives that cares for us and we are important to ourselves, if we don’t prioritize our safety it's not likely anyone else will jump in and do it. With all the hunting knowledge you have gained today, it’s time to start on your perfect rifle. Build your next hunting rifle today with an OD Green Cerakoted Billet AR-15 80% Lower Receiver for your forest hunts. Perhaps a long range prairie hunt is more your speed, then a Flat Dark Earth Cerakoted Billet .308 80% Lower Receiver is the platform for you to begin your build today!