A couple of weeks back, there was a story about a dog named Trigger who accidentally stepped on a loaded gun and shot its owner while they were waterfowl hunting.  Most of the news stories treated this accident in a joking manner because of the dog’s name.  There is nothing funny about a hunting accident and luckily this time the injury was not serious.

Hunting accidents can happen. Sometimes the hunter is injured.  Sometimes the dog is injured.  Sometimes the accident is deadly.

While out hunting, the hunter should always think “hunting safety first” and practice safe gun handling to minimize accidents.  Sometimes it means missing a bird.  Sometimes it means not taking a shot.  No bird is worth injuring your dog or another hunter.

I am not a hunter but I have spent time out with hubby taking pictures while he hunts, and have observed his hunting safety habits.  I know there are many non-hunters who read this blog so I figured I would write a bit about hunting safety.

First when hubby is out hunting, the gun is unloaded while it is in the truck or any time hubby sets it down.  For example, if we decide to stop for a photo and hubby props the gun against a tree, it is unloaded. Even if he is holding the gun, if he is not hunting, it is unloaded.

The Gun Is Unloaded To Take This Picture
The Gun Is Unloaded To Take This Picture With Thunder

It is also unloaded whenever we are in the vicinity of our truck.  We would not be hunting near the truck so no need to leave the gun loaded.

But probably the most important thing safe hunters do is to leave the safety switch on the gun and their finger off the trigger unless they are actually shooting the gun.  This can mean that the hunter misses a bird when he only has a second to aim, take the safety off, and shoot at a bird, but safety should always be first.

Getting a shot can be particularly difficult when hunting thick cover like when we are hunting grouse and woodcock.  Not only must the hunter keep up with the dogs while moving through thick stands of trees or climbing over downed trees, but should the dogs flush a bird, then the hunter must try to set themselves, shoulder the gun (another thing that safe hunters do), take the safety off, and shoot at the bird in what might only be a moment.  This is the reason we normally have more misses and no shots while grouse/woodcock hunting than upland or waterfowl hunting.  If you have read some of my posts I might say the dogs had 12 flushes, but we only got one bird…being safe about taking the shot is usually the reason.

Grouse Hunting In Thick Cover
Grouse Hunting In Thick Cover

But even if hunters are not moving though heavy cover or are waterfowl hunting and staying in one place, they should always be mindful of the safety of their dogs.

Freighter On His Dog Stand While Waterfowl Hunting
Freighter On His Dog Stand While Waterfowl Hunting

Sometimes the safest thing is to not take the shot or to hold a shot when the birds are not in a good position relative to other hunters or your dog.

This video is a good example of a bird getting away when it is running and ends up flushing too low and over Thunder rather than away from him.  Hubby holds his shot on the first bird and unfortunately, by the time it is safe to take the shot, the bird is too far away so it is a miss.  The second bird is not so lucky with a perfect, flush, shot and retrieve.

If the video won’t play try here.

Most hunters are safe hunters and luckily hunting accidents are not common.  Hunter safety courses for young hunters with an emphasis on gun safety have helped to make the next generation of hunters safe hunters.

Storm 2013
Storm With A Nice Flush So The Hunter Can Take A Safe Shot 2013

12 thoughts on “Hunting Safety First

  1. Wow, such an interesting post! I was wondering the whole time about the safety orange because in the photos I always see your hubby wearing it, as he should, but wondered if the dogs wore safety orange too. Then I saw the video and sure enough, Thunder has his safety orange on! Thank goodness. 🙂 I bet that helps keep the dogs safe too.

    1. I wear orange too when I go even though I am not hunting and yes the dogs wear orange collars. That is for upland only (grouse, woodcock, pheasant). Waterfowl hunting is camo, but as I said you stay in one place so you should know were other hunters and your dogs are and take care when firing.

  2. I would say that hunting and gun safety are of the utmost importance!

    And, once again, some ignoramus makes a joke of a hunting accident. I wonder how funny it would have been to them if they themselves had been injured? I’d bet they’d be screaming bloody murder about suing the hunter or having the poor dog euthanized or both. Grrr

  3. Very interesting. My mom has never even seen a real gun or rifle. We are too scared of someone being careless to go anywhere near a hunting spot. Glad you are real safety minded.

  4. Great post, those are some good common sense everyone should follow. When you’re hunting, there are a lot of distractions that can lead to unsafe situations.
    That brings to mind something new I’ve seen over the past month and wonder if it’s some kind of training trend or what. But that is – a couple of times I’ve seen hunters out hunting with their pups on a check cord. Not a handler, but a gun-toting hunter. Not only is it impractical but dangerous as well.

  5. It seems like every year there is a hunting accident we hear about. We are always more careful walking and running during hunting season too.

  6. It’s so easy for things to go badly if you don’t make a habit of good, safe practices. That was a very interesting post and I hope the vast majority of hunters out there are being careful and mindful like you!

  7. I didn’t realize the guns weren’t loaded when he was posing for photos, but now that you point that out, I can see the value in that. I mean you could pick up the gun and accidentally discharge it. 🙁 Great post about hunting safety!

  8. My hubby no longer hunts but he used to, and whenever we hear of an accident he just shakes his head, saying there is really no excuse for it if you are aware of safety.
    We work at a store that checks in deer, and he is disgusted by the number of hunters that he sees are not wearing their safety orange during gun season.
    Great post!

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