Risky Business – A Guide to Hunting & Gun Safety
Hunting was possibly the most widely practiced human activity during the primitive ages. It is no surprise, since hunting was an integral part of life by which humans acquired the bare necessities, like food and clothing. Hunting was also a method of survival because some wild animals would kill humans if left unprotected. Ancient cave paintings clearly portray the earlier humans fighting against other creatures with clubs and spears. In those days, hunting weapons were made of stone and primitive metals. Now, they have developed into the most sophisticated hunting rifles and air guns. Today, hunting has become more about sport than a necessity.
Hunting was considered a prestigious and heroic deed where hunters used to be held in high esteem in the elite society for centuries. With modernization, hides and skins of the wild animals were used in the production of a number of items. Crocodile, snake, and cow skins can be used to make bags, wallets, belts, and other leather goods. Goat horn, bear claws, tiger penis, and tiger teeth are believed to be powerful aphrodisiacs in a number of Asian countries. Recreation and poaching have resulted in the relentless killing of wild animals, resulting in the extinction of a number of animal species. Rhinos and elephants are widely hunted for their horns and tusks, which are highly priced in the international market. Deer are one of the most widely hunted animals, serving both the purpose of food and trade. For centuries, the antlers have been used in handicraft industries to make beautiful articles and show pieces. The use of antlers as dietary supplements in various types of alternative medicine is widely practiced in Asia. With the intervention of conservationists, laws have been enforced to stop the relentless wild life massacre.
Hunting laws are enforced by the government to protect the animal kingdom. Relentless wild life killing has led to the sharp decrease in various wild life species, some of which have become extinct. Through these laws, hunting is allowed only in specific regions. Hunting is advocated in some areas to maintain a healthy wild life population of the different species in the preservation of ecological balance. Different regulatory and licensing bodies are set up in countries to execute the lawful hunting activity. The government lays specific guidelines regarding the hunting season, the animals to be hunted, hunting arms and ammunitions. It even covers the number of a particular game to be hunted in a period of time.
Those who hunt for recreation should have a hunting license issued by the government or relevant authority. They are provided with a set of guidelines regarding the areas of hunting, arms, ammunitions, and hunting season. Violating any one of these regulations can bring about serious penalties. Different states of U.S. issue hunting licenses and permits for game hunting according to the game. The bird-hunting license will have different set of rules than deer hunting. Usage of particular arms and ammunitions for a particular game is strictly followed in legal hunting. For instance, the hunter should carry minimum sized ammunition for elk hunting to prevent the elk from suffering a prolonged painful death. Toxic ammunitions are strictly prohibited in the hunting zones as these may affect fellow hunters. Shotguns and rifles can be used for deer hunting during the firearms season and the hunter should have a resident or non-resident hunting license. In the muzzleloader season, the hunter should carry a separate muzzleloader license along with the hunting license.
Hunting of migratory birds with shotguns larger than 10 gauges is illegal, and the gun should not contain more than two rounds of ammunition. Possession of lead shots in migratory fowl hunting is deemed illegal. For hunting coyotes, the hunter is permitted to use shotguns, 22-cal rim fire rifles and muzzleloaders.
Hunters should always abide by the safety rules while on a hunting spree. This is for self-protection and the welfare of the other hunters in the area. Following hunting tips will help to ensure the safety of both the experienced hunters and beginners:
- Be sure about your target and aim it properly before pulling the trigger.
- Maintain the prescribed time limit and stop hunting at the right time. If hunting is prohibited in the dark, then strictly follow the rule.
- Always wear bright orange colored clothes to make yourself clearly visible to other hunters.
- Always make sure that the target animal is dead before wrapping it up.
- It is better to go hunting with others or take someone who can guide you in regards to the whereabouts of a particular animal.
- Wear suitable hunting attire like hunting vests, boots, and cap. While in a boat, the hunter should wear life jacket and carry personal floating devices.
- Special hunting boots should be worn; they also prevent slipping and skidding on the marshes and swamps.
- Always check if the firearm is properly loaded before shooting the target.
- Always identify the animals before you shoot.
- The firearms should be carefully handled. Never climb or jump or cross difficult terrains with a loaded gun.
- Always be aware of your surroundings, including other hunting parties that may be in the area. Use effective communication and stay alert.
It is dangerous to toy with guns. Loaded shotguns should be handled with utmost care. Make sure that the ammunition you are carry matches the gauge and the caliber of the gun. When not in use, unload the firearms and use gunlocks or trigger locks. Store the arms while traveling to and from the hunting sites. The guns and ammunitions must be stored in cool, dry places, and they must be under lock and key. The following are a few tips for proper gun safety:
- Always use protection of eyes and ears to prevent injury or long-term damage
- Always follow safety instructions and manuals of the firearms
- Always check to make sure the gun is not loaded when not in use or in storage.
- Make sure that all firearms are properly maintained and cleaned.
- Store guns separately from the ammunition
The following links have more information on hunting, hunting safety, and gun safety.
- Hunting Regulations: The page provides important hunting regulations.
- The Hunting Declaration: Read the declaration before you start hunting.
- Hunting: The US Fish & Wildlife Service provides vital information on hunting.
- Hunting Safety: The page provides a number of basic hunting safety rules.
- Safety: The USDA Forest Service offers essential safety tips for hunters.
- Bird Hunting Regulations: The page offers an explanation of terms and regulations in relation to migratory bird hunting.
- Gun Safety: Learn the fundamentals from the National Rifle Association.
- Hunting Page: Come here to learn more about hunting, fishing, wildlife species, and more.
- Ten Commandments: Follow these most important basic hunting safety rules.
- Vanishing Act: Before you go hunting, it’s good to learn about the species you are not allowed to hunt.