By Nolan Farr
For everyone who plans on being out in chase of game this season, I’m sure you have heard the old saying “Be sure of your target – and beyond!” Whether it is from the instructors at a hunter’s safety course that you attended, or from the words of a mentor who introduced you to the outdoors, we all seem to recognize the idea; however, does it really stick?
As you go afield, you are taking an extreme risk. Not only are you in danger from the wildlife and environment surrounding you, but also, from yourself and other hunters. For the most part, we are all out enjoying the fresh air, time spent with friends and family, and if fortunate enough, the chance at some wild game. No one ever plans on getting hurt or even injuring others, so let’s keep it that way. As sportsmen and sportswomen it’s up to us to protect ourselves, as well as everyone else.
It seems like people make such silly mistakes that are the simplest to prevent in the first place. Little things like wearing hunter safety orange to make it obvious to others that you are in the area will help protect you. Also, another thing, like wearing a safety harness when you’re up in a tree is crucial. You may have the best balance and stability around, but it only takes one small misstep to change the total outcome of your hunt or, in the worst case, your life. One more small change can also prevent major problems. Always keep that finger off your trigger and the safety on until you are sure you are ready to shoot. Anything could happen out in the woods and your gun could easily go “bang,” without you even meaning to.
At the same time we need to make sure we are keeping the safety of others in mind as well. Respect others’ hunting space. If you see someone else in an area, don’t set up right next to them! What is going to happen when a deer runs between you two! I don’t want to find out! Even if you are hunting away from someone but you have an idea where they are take extra caution if you are to shoot in their direction. If it is a questionable shot, DO NOT TAKE IT! Today’s firearms put some serious power behind bullets and anything could happen with the landscape. If you can see your background, make sure of what is beyond your target. Even the biggest buck is not worth the risk of putting a hole in someone’s house, if that is what you see behind the deer.
I know you may be saying “well I already know all this,” and I’m sure most of us do; however, it is never bad to remind yourself of these simple things. Even when you are out in the field, regularly checking your safety as well as the location of houses, roads, or other hunters and people, is never a bad thing to do and can save you some unnecessary conflict that no one needs. Hunting can be, and is, a safe sport, but it is up to all of us to make it that way. Remember that once you pull the trigger you never, ever, get that bullet back. So remember to use good, clear judgment in the field, and do not make a decision you are going to regret.
As I am on the topic of looking beyond to see the whole picture, I think it is important to mention that we need to look beyond what we see in this world to what is truly the most significant. Getting a chance at the buck of your dreams may be the most meaningful to you, but really does not even compare to getting a chance with the creator of that deer, and the rest of nature, that we all love. In this season of Thanksgiving don’t forget to give him thanks for the awesome natural world we live in. It was created for us, so thank him for that.