Richmond, VA, October 18, 2007 --(PR.com
)-- More than 300,000 hunting licenses are sold in Virginia each year, making the sport one of the most popular in the Commonwealth. When you combine its popularity with the inherent dangers of guns and bows—and include a shrinking hunting area due to increased suburban construction—the mantra of safety first carries a tremendously important role.
That’s why Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance wants to remind everyone that while hunting is considered to be one of the most dangerous activities for Virginians, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many safety precautions you can take to ensure your safety, as well as the safety of those around you.
“Safety is of the utmost importance when it comes hunting,” says Jimmy Maass, safety coordinator at Virginia Farm Bureau. “It extends far past the safety involved when someone pulls a trigger or bow. There are several categories of hunting safety that sportsmen need to keep in mind, and all of them are important. No steps should be skipped.”
Maass offers the following safety tips that hunters need to bear in mind, beginning before sportsmen begin the hunt and carrying through to their time in the field:
General Safety Tips—Preparing for the Outing
• Let someone know the area in which you'll be hunting.
• Scope out the area, focusing on landmarks, and carry a map. Be sure to bring a cell phone or radio in case of emergency.
• Pack a first aid or survival kit to carry with you.
• Make sure your firearm or bow is clean, in proper working order, and that you have the right ammunition.
• Check your tree stand and make necessary repairs.
• Obtain and carry all proper licenses and identification.
• Develop an in-depth knowledge of your hunting equipment and any limitations.
• Properly store firearms and ammunition when they are not in use. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded, every time.
• Develop good marksmanship so you are capable of hitting your target.
Safety Tips—In the Field
• Wear orange and/or bright colors so that you are distinguishable. Camouflage may help prevent the deer from seeing you, but it also prevents other hunters from seeing you.
• Keep an eye out for dangers not readily apparent or at the top of your mind, such as snakes, poison ivy, or difficult terrain.
• Be over-cautious and over-protective of children and young adults. If anything, they need judgment guidance. Remember that you are the adult.
• Keep your firearms pointed in a safe direction whether they are loaded or not. Point them only at objects you intend to shoot. Never point them at your feet.
• The safety on the weapon should be on at all times, unless you are preparing to fire at your target.
• Know the location of all of your hunting partners at all times.
• Know your target and beyond that target. Be cognizant of where someone’s cattle or personal property lay.
• Recover and tag the game you have harvested.
• Approach an animal you’ve hit cautiously. If only wounded, the animal is unpredictable. Evaluate all scenarios, including an escape plan.
If you are using a bow:
• Never store and transport the crossbow in a cocked position.
• If the string or wire used on your bow looks frayed, replace it before you are out in the field.
• Cock your crossbow on the ground. Never attempt to cock it in a tree stand.
• Ensure that there are no obstructions that will hit the limbs of the crossbow. Make sure there is plenty of clearance for the limbs to move forward when shooting.
• Make certain that you have a bow that fits your strength. Use only the manufacturer's recommended arrow weights and length.
Maass also recommends everyone take a safety course, whether they are a beginning hunter or experienced sportsman.
In Virginia, hunter education courses provide instruction in hunter safety, principles of conservation, and sportsmanship. The courses are free of charge and cover many topics that prepare new hunters to enjoy their experience in the outdoors. Anyone under the age of 16, or 16 years or older but has been granted a hunting license must take a course. But it is always a good idea, according to Maass.
“Before you head out, especially if you have not been hunting in a while, you should make certain you participate in a hunting safety course,” says Maass. “Safety courses are very good at teaching or reminding you the basics of gun and hunting safety.”
By following these hunting safety tips, you’ll make a significant first step towards ensuring your hunting experience is a safe and enjoyable one. Just remember that this involves proper preparation and attentiveness to safety measures.
About Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance Services
Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance Services is committed to providing products that best meet the insurance needs of Virginia’s families and small businesses. An organization with more than 148,000 members, served by more than 100 county offices throughout the Commonwealth, Farm Bureau Insurance also offers a wide range of financial planning products and services. Visit Virginia Farm Bureau at vfbinsurance.com. For more safety information, please contact Jimmy Maass at 804/290-1379.