Hunter Safety Tips

General Outdoor Safety Tips for Hunters

  • Be sure to tell someone where you are going, what time to expect your return and what to do if you are not back at expected time.
  • Make sure your cell phone is fully charged.
  • Dress for the appropriate weather/season. For example, wear layers during cooler times of the year, have rain gear available, bring hats or face coverings, etc.
  • Have the following types of items available: matches or a lighter in a waterproof pouch, a flashlight, toilet paper in a plastic bag, a compass (and know how to use it), water, and sunscreen.
  • If unfamiliar with the area you are hunting, be sure to research it (look at maps, etc.) before heading out to understand appropriate landmarks in the event you get lost.
  • Know what safety gear you should be wearing. For example, did you know that on private land, you are required to wear 500 square inches of hunter orange above the waist when hunting deer (primitive weapons or firearms season), bear (primitive weapons or firearms season) or feral hogs (during firearms deer season)? Additional hunting regulation information available at

Think Safety First When Using a Tree Stand  

Though commonly used by deer hunters everywhere, tree stands often are improperly installed. As a result, they are considered the leading cause of hunting-related incidents. Be sure to review this safety information before heading to the woods.

Free Tree Stand Safety Course: If you hunt from a tree stand, please take the time to take this 15-minute tree stand safety course. This course is offered by Hunter Course.

Tree Stand Safety TipsMan standing in tree stand

  • 5 Critical Tips
  • When using a non-climbing portable or ladder stand, hunters should securely fasten the stand to the tree and install ladders or steps according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Hunters should ALWAYS wear a Fall-Arrest System (FAS)/Full Body Harness during ascent and descent. Be aware that single strap belts and chest harnesses are no longer recommended and should not be used. Failure to use a FAS could result in serious injury or death.
  • Hunters should ALWAYS attach their FAS in the manner described by the manufacturer. Failure to do so may result in suspension without the ability to recover into the tree stand. Be aware of the hazards associated with full body harnesses and the fact that prolonged suspension in a harness may also be fatal. 
  • Have in place a plan for rescue, including the use of cell phones or signal devices that may be easily reached and used while suspended. If rescue personnel cannot be notified, you must have an alternate plan for recovery or escape. If you have to hang suspended for a period of time before help arrives, exercise your legs by pushing against the tree or doing any other form of continuous motion or use your suspension relief device.
  • Consider your personal physical condition before going out. If you do not have the ability to recover or escape from a FAS, it is recommended that you hunt only from the ground.
  • Hunters should ALWAYS use a haul line to pull their gear and unloaded firearm or bow into their tree stand. Never climb with anything in your hands or on your back. Prior to descending, lower equipment to the ground on the opposite side of the tree.
  • Staying awake and alert is important. Hunters should avoid taking medications that cause drowsiness prior to hunting. Also, never use alcohol or drugs before or while hunting.
  • Hunters should always inform someone of where they are hunting and what time they expect to return.

Firearms & Muzzleloader Safety

Firearms Safety: Four Primary Rules of Firearms Safety

The following checklist, comprised of only four items, is easily remembered with the acronym ACTT:

  • A: Always treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
  • C: Control the muzzle of the firearm at all times.
  • T: Be certain of the Target and what is in front of it and beyond it.
  • T: Keep your finger outside of the Trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.

Muzzleloader SafetyBoy passing man a firearm

Following are recommendations to ensure a safe experience: 

  • Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
  • Never rely solely on the gun’s “safety” mechanism.
  • Handle every gun as if it was loaded.
  • Do not use alcohol or drugs while handling a firearm.
  • Never smoke in the proximity of a muzzleloader.
  • Use an intermediate device, such as a measure, to pour powder into a barrel.
  • Keep flask and powder containers away from flames and sparks to prevent an accidental explosion.
  • Use only powders specific to each muzzleloader and recommended by that firearms manufacturer.
  • Place percussion cap on nipple only when ready to shoot.
  • The gun is safely unloaded only after removing the bullet, powder and percussion cap. If using a flintlock muzzleloader, remove the bullet and powder, and un-prime the flash pan.
  • Use the recommended loading materials, the correct powder charge, the right diameter and weight bullet and the correct lead material.
  • Never use plastic (poly) patches. These are different from sabots.
  • Treat a misfire as though the gun could fire at any moment.
  • Make sure the gun is unloaded before attempting to clean it.
  • Make sure the projectile is firmly seated on the powder before capping and firing.
  • Never blow down the barrel of a muzzleloader to clear or extinguish sparks.

Firearm Range Rules

There are 17 public firearms ranges in the state. If you are planning a visit to one of the ranges, be sure to familiarize yourself with the rules of the range.  

Free Firearm Safety Videos