About the Study Guide

You are looking at a preview of what’s in the Today's Hunter in Kentucky Course. Feel free to look around, but you’ll need to register to begin progress toward getting your Hunter Education Completion Card.

Learn More Register for the Course

Transporting firearms involves both legal and safe practices. In addition to federal laws, there are regulations that vary from state to state.

Hunter casing rifle for safe transport

General Rules

  • Always unload and case firearms before transporting them. In many states, this may be the law. The action should be open or the gun broken down, whichever makes the firearm safest if it’s mishandled.
  • Firearms should not be displayed in window gun racks because the display may provoke anti-hunter sentiment. It’s also an invitation to thieves.
  • Lean a firearm against a secure rest only. A vehicle does not provide a secure resting place. A gun that falls over might accidentally discharge or be damaged.

Transporting Firearms Safely

Press the play button (▶) above to start the video. Trouble with this video?

Video Transcript

Haley opens a safe and begins explaining gun safety to her daughter Carson.

Haley

These guns are a lot like the guns my dad and I used on our first hunt. And we keep them in this safe to keep them, well, safe.

Carson

Safe from what?

Haley

Any guesses? We keep them locked and out of reach of people who are not familiar with how to properly handle a firearm. And we’re using trigger locks and chamber blocks as extra safety precautions. And every time we take it out, we treat the firearm as if it’s loaded. And when we do take it out, we make sure it’s unloaded.

On screen: UNLOADED

Haley

And we make sure the safety is on.

On screen: SAFETY ON

Haley

We point the gun barrel downward.

On screen: BARREL DOWN

Haley

And we always keep our finger outside the trigger guard.

On screen: FINGER OUTSIDE GUARD

Haley

And we keep our ammo stored separately from our firearms. Got it?

Carson

Mm-hmm.

Haley

OK, can you grab those?

Carson

More protection?

Haley

That’s right. Dual protection for when we transport them. These are going to keep us safe, and they are going to protect our firearms. All right. Ready to go get some squirrels?

Carson nods.

Now at the truck, Haley begins unloading their firearms.

Haley

What is the one way to handle every firearm, no matter what type it is?

She hands a firearm to Carson.

Haley

Here you go.

Carson

Thank you.

Haley

If you thought as a loaded firearm, you’re right. Every firearm, no matter what gauge or caliber, should be treated as if it were loaded. And in a moment, once we get away from the vehicle and closer to where we’re going to hunt, we will load them. All right. You got your hat? You got your glasses? All right. Let’s go.

The two walk down the trail.

Haley

So we’re out for squirrels. It seems like a pretty safe hunt, right? But what kind of decisions are we going to have to make to stay safe? Let’s go.

On screen: STAYING SAFE

Haley, whispering

All right. Stick to my left. When we get to the area up ahead …

Haley, in voiceover

It makes sense to be quiet when you’re hunting alone. But when hunting with others, it’s important to communicate your location and what’s happening during the hunt. Whether you’re working, driving, playing, or hunting, you can make costly mistakes when you’re tired. So either rest or go slowly.

On screen, Haley trips and falls.

Haley, in voiceover

Sooner or later, we’re going to have to cross over creeks, fences, and other obstacles. And when we do, it’s time to unload our firearms and cross safely.

Walking back to the truck, Haley says to Carson, “You did great today.”

Carson

It was so much fun. Can we go duck hunting tomorrow?

Haley

Sure. That sounds good. Let’s stop here and unload. Similar to when we left to go hunting, we stop to safely unload the firearms before we approach our vehicle. We start by facing away from each other, pointing the muzzle in a safe direction.

On screen: MUZZLE IN SAFE DIRECTION

Haley

We check the safety to make sure it is on while keeping our finger outside the trigger guard.

On screen: SAFETY ON

Haley

We remove the ammunition.

On screen: UNLOAD AMMUNITION

Haley

We make sure the gun is empty by checking the action.

On screen: CHECK ACTION

Haley

And we properly case our firearms once at the vehicle.

On screen: PROPERLY CASE FIREARM

Haley

So you’re going to remember all this stuff tomorrow, right?

Carson

Yep.

Haley

Good. Because we’ve got a few more things to add to the checklist.

Carson

All right.

The next day—the two hunters exit their truck with a dog.

Haley

As you can see, duck hunting involves a few more things than our squirrel hunt. But the safety tips for transporting firearms are still the same, no matter what or how we’re hunting.

Haley calls the dog.

Haley

Come on, Willard. We’ve made sure our guns are unloaded and properly cased until we are ready to load them into the boat. Now, here are some new things to consider before heading out on the water.

On screen: TRANSPORTING BY BOAT: PREPPING HUNTERS

Haley

We started thinking safety even before we left the house. We left detailed hunt information, or our float plan, with someone who expects us back at a certain time. We are wearing life jackets for good reason. Our gear is heavy, and cold water is very hard to swim in. Wearing a life jacket is smart any time you’re on the water.

On screen: TRANSPORTING BY BOAT: PREPPING BOAT

Haley

If you’re alone unloading your boat, place your gear into the boat from where it’s assembled on the dock or boat landing. If you’re hunting with a partner, have them get into the boat. Then hand them the gear and guns from the dock or boat landing. We use the same method for unloading the boat. And with all the gear we use duck hunting, there’s another thing to consider. Evenly distribute your gear from stem to stern and from port to starboard. And don’t overload your boat beyond its stated capacity with people, gear, and the dog. All right. Looks like we’re ready. Ready to cast off? Let’s go. No matter what you’re riding in or on, whether it be a horse, ATV, or snowmobile, always make sure the firearm is unloaded and the safety is on before you secure it in a case, gun rack, or scabbard.

Haley and Carson cast off and begin to row.

Haley

Well, this should be another hunt to remember.