The hunting season is once again up us. In Texas and around world, families and friends will enjoy the shooting sports and built memories and bonds that last a lifetime.
Most hunts occur without incident, but when an incident does occur, the consequences can be grave. Deaths and injuries from hunting can be avoided. First and foremost, the manufacturers of hunting firearms should make safe rifles and shotguns. Second, but perhaps equally important, hunters must learn and put into practice safe gun handling rules.
Before the hunt begins:
- Learn exactly how your firearm operates. How does it work? Where is the safety? Is there a bolt lock (for bolt-action rifles)? What ammunition does the manufacturer recommend? How is the rifle properly loaded? Unloaded? Learning the operating characteristics of any firearms will help a hunter hunt more safely.
- Learn the condition of your firearm. Who has maintained and cleaned the firearm? Who has worked on the firearm? Has it been adjusted? Does the manufacturer allow for or recommend such adjustments? A firearm can be adjusted improperly, and this can impact the firearm’s performance, sometimes in ways that create a very serious hunting hazard.
On the hunt:
- Where is everyone going to be? Knowing the location of other hunters helps you follow the important rule of muzzle control. Obviously, a rifle should never be pointed at someone else. Knowing where the other people are helps to accomplish that goal.
- Don’t load your rifle too early. Lots of folks load their rifles too early. Don’t load until you reach the area where you intend to hunt.
- Keep the rifle’s safety engaged until you are about to shoot. The safety is there for a reason. Use it. If you rifle cannot be unloaded without moving the safety to fire, your loading and unloading responsibility is even greater. You must ensure that an unintended discharge strikes the ground only.
- Unload your rifle early. When the hunt is over, remove the ammunition from your firearms, and make sure everyone else does, too. Accidents happen very frequently during the loading and unloading process. Fatigue and can also be an issue late in the day. Unload with great care and caution.
After the hunt:
- Clean and maintain your rifle by the book and according to the manufacturers’ instructions.
- Unless you are trained professional, leave gun-smithing to gunsmiths.
- Store your rifle in a dry, inside location, preferably out of the reach of children.