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Hunting Information Safety Guide

Hunting Information and Safety Guide

Hunting is among the oldest of human activities, outdating any records by millennia. Learning to hunt was an essential part of our survival as humans. Now, in modern days, it is primarily a recreation activity. However, the connection it can bring someone to nature, and the history of their ancestors, transcends mere sport. What makes hunting most different from other sports is the real victory and consequences of the hunt. While this involves a certain level of danger, as it utilizes weapons in often remote areas, basic precautions can minimize most risks. For example, the hunter can significantly improve their safety by wearing neon-colored vests, bringing basic survival supplies and a cellphone, and telling someone where and how long they plan on hunting. Hunting safety classes are a great way for a beginner to learn guidelines to hunting safety. Other safety measures and preparations depend upon the type of hunting planned. The two most popular hunting methods today are bow and rifle hunting.

Although it may seem strange to hear, hunting is an environmentally beneficial sport. When performed ethically and with good sportsmanship (sharing hunting plots and only hunting what a tag allows), it can help control certain invasive animal populations and limit the spread of diseases. A large portion of hunting tag fees also fund wildlife conservation efforts. Although the result is a dead animal, hunting sources meat in a more ethical manner than most grocery stores' factory farmed supply. This is because the goal of a sportsman hunter is to bring down prey in a single shot, before it even knows it is being hunted, which slays it in the least traumatic manner possible. A single deer can supply a hunter with 50-120 pounds of nutrient-rich meat that can last a family for up to a year.

Bow Hunting

Bow hunting is the ultimate natural hunting experience. Because of bows' limited range, bow hunters must get closer to prey than with rifle hunting. This requires a hunter to improve their ability to stalk and become more in touch with the natural world in the process. Additionally, a bow hunter needs to develop a skill in archery prior to engaging on a first hunt. Safety courses and archery lessons are essential to teaching beginners best practices and shooting accuracy. As with any weapon, safety has to be a priority when handling a bow. Being careful where a bow is aimed (never at another human) and never running with it, chasing arrows, or overdrawing the bowstring can prevent most accidents. If precautions are followed, bow hunting can be a safe way of incorporating a more natural bend to the recreation of hunting.

Bows can be categorized into one of three types: traditional bows, compound bows, and crossbows. The oldest type, the traditional or recurve bow, is famously used in medieval movies and books, like by Robin Hood as he foils the plans of the evil Sheriff of Nottingham or by Legolas when he battles the forces of Sauron in Lord of the Rings. Despite its simple look, the recurve bow is difficult to shoot accurately and requires significant upper body strength for drawback (pulling back the arrow on the bowstring). Because of this, it is not recommended for beginners or young bow hunters. The compound bow, on the other hand, is a more modern bow that uses pulleys and wheels to ease drawback and provide more accurate shooting from a farther distance. Compound bows are a bit clumsier and heavier to carry, but do not require the sportsman to sneak as close to their prey (because of its accuracy). Therefore, compound bows and crossbows are the most recommended bow types for a hunter just starting out. Crossbows are a good transition bow for those with experience rifle shooting. This is because, similar to rifles, crossbows use a trigger and scope system for aiming and shooting. Additionally, once a crossbow is cocked with an arrow, it remains at full draw, without extra work from the hunter, until it is ready to be fired. It therefore requires less strength and is less tiring for the shooter. As a result of its drawback system, crossbows shoot bolts much faster than compound bows and have a heavier drawback weight. This heavier firepower and the 'always cocked' nature of crossbows make them more dangerous than other bows, especially during bolt loading and unloading. That is why it is particularly important for new crossbow hunters to take a safety course before shooting.

Rifle Hunting

Rifles are a beginner's easiest path to starting the recreation of hunting. Scopes and modern gun technology greatly ease the ability of the novice to accurately hit their prey from a farther distance than bowhunting. This means that a new rifle hunter is more likely to provide a swift, efficient kill than a beginning bow hunter. In turn, the animal will suffer less and the meat will be tastier (stress releases chemicals that lower the meat quality). Beginners are recommended to start with a simple, low caliber rifle before increasing firing power and the size of targeted game. Rifle hunting is an excellent way to quickly get out in nature and experience everything hunting has to offer.

While hunting related injuries are less common than most sports, rifle safety is an incredibly important part of the rifle hunting experience. Licenses that prove completion of a gun safety course are typically required in order to obtain a hunting permit. Standard rifle hunting safety focuses on making sure a shot is clear to the target (both in front and behind), wearing the proper eye and ear protection, and being knowledgeable of proper gun function. Gun safety also includes times when the rifle is not in the hunter's hand. It is always important to keep unused rifles unloaded, maintained, and stored out of the reach of children. Proper rifle handling allows hunters to focus their attention on the hunt, rather than an accident.

Other Resources

Whether hunting with bow or rifle, the true sportsman builds upon their craft with training and knowledge. By researching local hunting clubs, practicing skills, and buying the best gear, a beginning hunter will soon be on the way to their first successful hunt!