There is one topic that I cannot stress enough when it comes to archery and life in general, and that’s safety. Without proper caution, serious consequences can happen, and unfortunately, there isn’t enough light shed on the topic to prevent it from happening more than it should.
With children, seniors, and adults joining the bowhunting community more and more each year, the importance of teaching how to be safe while handling your bow and hunting should be more of a priority than it’s ever been.
The problem is that most people sweep teaching safety under the rug because they assume that the person who is handling the bow is careful or that nothing will ever happen, but, unfortunately, this is not always the case.
There have been many cases of individuals getting hurt or injured while in the possession of a bow so there’s no reason that something bad won’t ever happen to you or a loved one if you don’t practice the proper steps that it takes to ensure your or their safety.
I think it is a devastating occurrence when anyone in the bowhunting community, especially, gets hurt or injured, so I’ve compiled a list of safety tips that I believe will be extremely useful no matter what you decide to do inside of archery. Bowhunting can be a tough game and it does come with its own set of challenges, but that isn’t to say that whatever else you do within the sport isn’t dangerous as well.
Read these tips, practice them, and then teach them to others so that you don’t only make sure you’re safe but that you are keeping others safe as well.
1) Following Rules & Regulations
If you’ve ever gone hunting and entered a hunting zone through the main passageway then you may have noticed that there was a sign posted outside of it. The sign you have passed will normally have the rules, caution tips, and laws posted on it. And many might be tempted to ignore these rules or try to take shortcuts around them by breaking them when they know they have a chance of getting away with what they’ve done, but doing so can result in huge trouble from the law and potentially even death.
Some may try to bend the rules, but this can be a bad idea for many reasons. If caught breaking certain state laws while within hunting grounds, you can lose your hunting license or even worse, go to jail. Breaking laws and regulations is not something that a lot of game wardens will tolerate much of and will take the actions necessary to punish whoever is breaking them if needed.
These laws and safety rules are there to not only protect certain wildlife but to protect yourself and others around you as well. Reckless behavior can end in serious injuries, accidents, and even death if you’re not careful, so following the rules is not only critical when it comes to respecting the laws and hunting zones, but for keeping you and everyone around you safe as well.
Losing your freedom to hunt or seriously injuring somebody is just not worth the carelessness that some hunters show and should always be reported as a safety violation if spotted. If you see a fellow hunter doing something that you know they shouldn’t be doing, then do not hesitate to take action and tell somebody about it.
2) Don’t Overdo It
Bowhunting is an extremely fun and exciting sport to be in, but before getting into it, you should clearly know what your physical limits are and then either work on improving them or working around them. Pushing yourself past your physical limitations can cause anything from torn muscles to a stroke and can put you out of the game for a very long time if you’re not careful enough.
Sometimes when hunting, you can expect to be on foot for miles upon miles on end and if you’re not physically up to the task this can result in fatigue, burnout, or even a heart attack. Bow hunting can be a very physically demanding sport when tracking down games and should be treated with care and caution so that you do not end up with a medical emergency. If you’re a senior or have a medical condition that can restrict your breathing, such as asthma, then taking your trip slow and steady should be the only thing to worry about.
I know it’s hard to stay calm and not get completely lost in the moment when hunting, but putting your physical health first is the most important thing you can do and should be taken very seriously.
Another safety risk to keep in mind is drawing your bow. If you bought your bow from an archery shop and have your bow set up properly, then great, this is not something you have to worry about. But if you didn’t and don’t quite understand how setting up a bow works, then this could very well cause a physical issue with yourself.
The reason being is that if you set up your bow and you have a draw weight that is a little too heavy for you to pull back, then torn muscles or body strain can and will occur. So make sure you are listening to your body and then taking the proper steps in keeping yourself safe.
3) Exercise Regularly
Exercise is an essential part of life, especially when it comes to archery. Bowhunting can be a pretty physically demanding sport and can take a lot out of a person if not prepared. Things like drawing your bow, walking long distances at a time trying to track down the game, and having to use a little manpower lugging around equipment can be hard and will use some preparation before taking your trip.
Bowhunting can naturally improve strength, attentive skills, and stamina, but after doing some research, I have found that there are tips and exercises that are aimed and targeted toward muscle groups that are used mostly within the sport. Being fit for hunting is more of a benefit when it comes to hunting but can turn out to be harmful if one is not fit to hunt in the first place.
If you’re really serious about hunting and have a deep passion for the sport, then incorporating a few exercises during your normal workout routine can help a lot when it comes to how well you perform in the field. A lot of cardio and a bit of bicep strength is used regularly when hunting, so any exercises targeting these areas and muscle groups will benefit you a ton.
It is not uncommon to wear out quickly when hunting for the first time or when hunting at all, so make exercise a priority to higher your chances of catching game and going the distance, literally and figuratively, while you bow hunt. Being in the field can bring along medical issues that would otherwise not be a problem if one is not physically in shape beforehand.
4) Stay In Contact
Whether it be falling and twisting an ankle, getting attacked by a wild game, or falling out of a treestand, anything can happen during your bowhunting, and it is safe to let others know where you’re going before leaving for your trip.
If you happen to injure yourself or get stuck in a situation that you feel like you can’t get out of, then having a cell phone on you can be a lifesaver and in my opinion, should be a required hunting rule so that getting help to get out of sticky situations is a lot easier. Even the most experienced of hunters can slip up and make a mistake, so letting a loved one or friend know when you’re leaving is very important when it comes to being safe with bowhunting.
Young adults and beginners are known to show reckless behavior and can inflict serious damage to themselves or others around them so making sure you have something to get ahold of emergency responders with in case of an emergency can and will save lives in the unfortunate case of something like this happening.
Cases of archers hurting or causing harm to themselves and to people around them have been reported in the past and should be something to keep in mind before hunting with or around someone who isn’t following safety precautions.
5) Pack Survival Gear
If anything were to happen where you had an accident and dropped or broke your phone and have no way of contacting anyone until you’re able to find help or help finds you, then bringing safety gear along can buy you more time until you are able to do so. Survival gear is a bowhunting necessity of mine and should be incorporated into every hunter’s bag before a trip.
Imagine breaking a bone, tearing a muscle, or gashing a leg open and not having a way to care for it until help came along. This would be bad, wouldn’t it? Help can take a long time to get to you if you don’t have a way to get ahold of anybody so having your own gear to tend to you or anybody else’s injuries is extremely important while you hunt and can even be enough to save a life depending on how serious the circumstances are.
Just to name a few, items like first aid kits, fire-starting equipment, and lights to illuminate an area can all be things that will make a world of difference when waiting for help. You’d be surprised at how much the smallest things that we take for granted on a daily basis can help us out in a time of need.
If you’re a careful person and are responsible for handling and operating a bow, bring survival gear anyways. You never know who you might run into that will need it.
6) The More The Merrier
This ties into having survival gear a little bit, but having extra supplies to help you with illumination can come in handy more than you would think. Some hunters hunt at night while others just hunt until the sun goes down, but either way, you’ll need gear that will help you see where you’re going so that you don’t get lost or injured.
Electronics can be unreliable and have failed people many times throughout the years of technology, so having the right backup equipment to quickly replace them with is pretty vital when it comes to hunting at times when light is low and vision is limited.
If possible, pack extra light bulbs, batteries, and even a flashlight so that you know you know you’ll be safe in case anything goes wrong. Your flashlight can break or fizzle out due to not having enough juice to power it, so bringing along that extra gear can help you navigate your way through and out of the woods when you need to.
If you’re out in the middle of a hunting zone and your flashlight dies with no back up then you might find yourself stuck in a position that can and will be hard to get out of if it is dark enough outside.
I bring one extra flashlight, two extra packs of batteries, and a few extra cases of bulbs when I am out hunting just in case of emergencies, but if you can bring more than that than please do. It might come in handy when you least expect it to.
7) Stay In Groups
Although some hunters hunt alone, it is not something that I recommend. If possible, only hunt if you are in a group. This will keep you safe and will provide an extra blanket of security just in case something were to happen.
If you do hunt in groups or with a buddy, then make sure you are staying close to them. Straying off by yourself and abandoning your fellow hunting buddies can be unsafe if inexperienced and can potentially cost you your life if you are unsure of what you’re doing or how to handle situations in which you have to defend yourself
I’ve probably only had one or two minor incidents throughout my many years of hunting, but I still bring a hunting partner anytime I do hunt. If it’s your kid, spouse, friend, or co-worker, hunting with a partner is and will always be the best idea. Absolutely anything can happen when you’re out in the field and you don’t want to be stuck with no assistance when it does.
If you are an experienced hunter and you know someone who is newer to bowhunting or is a senior citizen and they want to hunt alone, then strongly advise them not to assist them in their trip. Certain age groups can be a little more accident-prone than others so it is important that we keep them safe.
8) Watch What You’re Shooting
As you may know by now, accidents do happen, so when handling your bow, you’ll want to make sure that you know exactly what you’re doing with it. Sometimes in times when light visibility is low and targets are harder to spot, you can mistake a partner or fellow hunter as being game.
Hunters are required to wear colors that make it easier to be spotted, but when light is low enough, seeing where you’re aiming can still be tough, so you’ll want to take the extra time needed to asses your target when this happens so that you don’t cause a serious accident.
Also, if you’re a hunter with poor vision and require prescription contacts or glasses to see, then please bring them. This can be a huge safety issue and can make the hunting game that much more difficult.
9) Secure Your Arrows
Broadheads are sharp and can cut through flesh easily if not put away or covered properly, so if you want to avoid this, you’ll need to invest in a quiver that is designed to keep your arrow tips and heads covered and secured.
Broadheads and other tips are designed to rip through the game easily and can cause a serious cut if not fully covered up. It can be a rookie mistake to have broadheads moving around freely while in the quiver without any cover, but if you take the extra bit of time to make sure that your heads are secure then you can save yourself from any harm and protect your arrows as well.
Also, avoid putting arrows upside down when putting them back into the quiver. This is extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
10) Dress Appropriately
Before your hunt, you’ll want to make sure you are wearing clothes that are appropriate for the weather that day. Hunting in hot conditions with thick hunting clothes can be dangerous for your health for reasons such as overheating, and can cause you to tire way sooner than you should.
The only time wearing bulky clothes is appropriate is in freezing temperatures and should be excluded from your trip altogether if not.
Humans are made up of mostly water and should stay hydrated at all times. Bowhunting requires a lot of movement and can cause you to sweat most fluids out of your body, so bringing a ton of water for your trip is highly recommended.
There is no worse and more dangerous feeling than to be out in the blazing sun with not enough water in your system. This can cause strokes and shouldn’t be taken lightly when hunting. It is recommended to take a couple of gallons of water with you before you leave the house or cabin so that you have plenty of water to last you while you hunt.
Yes, bowhunting is an amazing sport to be a part of, but if done improperly, it can cause many issues. Issues like forgetting gear, not having enough water, or injuring yourself or someone else, just to name a few.
Whether you are a new hunter or someone who has been hunting for a long time, knowing these simple tips can help keep you safe and will prevent you from making mistakes that you would have made had you not read this list.
Being knowledgeable about basic safety rules should be a minimum requirement for any hunter and should be taken seriously so that you’re safe and everyone around you is safe as well.
Follow these basic tips and you might find that your next hunting trip is a lot easier and a lot less dangerous.