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One hunter crossing fence

Always unload guns before crossing fences or other obstacles or before negotiating rough terrain.

  • If alone, place the gun on the other side of the obstacle, cross, and pull the gun toward you by the butt.
  • If two people are crossing, one person gives the other person both guns, crosses first, and then receives the unloaded guns from the other hunter.

Hunter instructing younger hunter

Occasionally you may trip or stumble in the field, accidentally dipping the barrel into the ground or snow. Immediately check for an obstruction.

Hunters loading firearms

When loading or unloading a firearm, always point the muzzle in a safe direction and make sure the safety is on.

Hunter casing rifle for safe transport

Before transporting a firearm, always unload it and put it in a case. Three typical gun cases are a padded, soft-sided case; a lockable, hard-sided case; and a gun sock. Do not display a firearm in a gun window rack.

Safe zone-of-fire

The area in which a hunter can shoot safely is referred to as a zone-of-fire. Before setting off in a group, hunters should agree on the zone-of-fire each person will cover.

  • It’s best to have no more than three hunters in a group.
  • Everyone should wear daylight fluorescent orange.
  • Only one hunter should aim at a target.
  • Hunters should shoot only at game in front of them.

Unsafe shot: Both hunters aiming while one hunter is in front of the other

Hunters should follow these other safety practices also.

  • Self-control and target identification: Only shoot when you are sure of your target and have a safe zone-of-fire.
  • Accuracy: Accuracy is essential for achieving a clean kill. Be sure you have a proper backstop before you shoot.
  • Alcohol and drugs: Avoid consuming alcohol or drugs before or during the hunt. It increases the risk of incidents.
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