While hunting is a fairly safe activity, there are many ways to be injured if you don't follow safety precautions. Injuries are becoming more common, and fatalities are a real risk. Many people are not concerned about these incidents, however, a smart hunter takes safety seriously.
The leading cause of hunting injuries is improper handling of a firearm. Too many hunters don't care for their weapon properly. Good hunters must learn the basics of gun safety. First, one must always treat the gun as though it is loaded. This applies to all activities that use guns, not just hunting, and not just the guns used for hunting. Never assume that a weapon is unloaded!
Don't be careless with a gun; never point it at other people. Don't wave it around or treat it like a toy. There is always a chance that, even if you believe the gun is unloaded, that an accident could occur. Gun powder residue can cause an empty gun to fire, or many other problem could occur. There are many tales of people being injured by guns they thought were unloaded. Always treat the gun as if it is loaded. It is better to be too cautious than get hurt!
Even when you are treating the gun like it is loaded, make sure to keep it unloaded until you are ready to use it on the hunting grounds. There is a chance that a gun can go off if it has been improperly stored. There are many tales about guns firing in truck compartments because they were not stored appropriately, and they were loaded.
Once you arrive at the hunting field, it is safe to load the gun. But, make sure to keep your fingers off of the trigger, in an indexed position. If your finger is on the trigger, you can accidentally fire the gun, causing a major injury. One false move can result in an accidental firing, if your finger is near the trigger. Keep your finger folded and away from the trigger, or folded and away from any notches, until your prey is within range.
A gun is not a toy. Never point it at another person, even in jest. A gun can accidentally go off, and there are many stories of friends joking around with guns and injuring or killing someone. Keep all guns pointed in a safe direction away from people and yourself. As stated before, always treat a gun like it is loaded, so even if you believe a gun is unloaded you need to keep the gun pointed away from people. Always expect the unexpected when it comes to firearms.
Never look down the barrel of a gun. If you are uncertain whether it is loaded or not, use a safer way to find out. There are no circumstances under which it is appropriate to look down the barrel of a gun, or have your face anywhere near it.
Keep from dropping the firearm. Dropping it can cause the gun to fire, sending a bullet into the world in an unpredictable direction. Hold the gun with two hands and make sure to treat it with care.
While alcohol is often considered an acceptable part of hunting, never allow an intoxicated person (even yourself) to use a firearm. Alcohol slows your reasoning and your reaction time, and can cause a lapse in good judgement and reason. Alcohol can cause you to forget the rules listed above and do something to harm yourself or those around you.
Make sure all members of your hunting party follow the gun safety rules listed above, and you will have a safe and successful deer hunting trip. If you do not pay attention to safety, the risk of injury more than doubles. Make sure you stay safe when hunting and handling firearms.