Hunting and Gun Safety - Know the Laws!

Hunting pre-dates recorded time and even the existence of Homo sapiens. Carnivorous animals would hunt herbivores. When the Homo genus emerged, it wasn't long before they harnessed stone tools and fire which became the key to hunting enough animals to keep tribes fed. Hunting in North America is traced back to the Native Americans. Certain religions in the Native American culture involved ritualistic animal sacrifice that was directly related to their hunting traditions. In the United States, Native Americans are still exempt from certain hunting laws.

It’s no secret that in order to hunt legally you need to obtain a hunting license. Children under 16 are sometimes exempt from this rule, but some states may require acquisition of a junior hunting license. While the license is usually easy to obtain and well worth the fee, the license itself is likely to have certain restrictions. For example, every hunting license can only be used in the state in which it’s granted. There is no national hunting license. This means that if you wish to hunt in more than one state, you need to obtain separate hunting licenses for each. Another restriction is that waterfowl such as ducks and geese cannot be hunted with a standard license. In order to do so, you must obtain a Duck Stamp, which is regulated by the Federal Government. There is extensive legislation to regulate the hunting of migratory birds. The reason for this is that they spend time in Canada, the United States and Mexico, so hunting them affects all three countries.

Hunting should only occur in designated hunting zones. These areas exists a safe distance away from residential areas, especially those with a high population density. Animals cannot be hunted outside the hunting zone, and sometimes they cannot be hunted within the zone either. There are certain regulated species such as bears and deer that can only be hunted at certain times of year based on state law. We call these times hunting seasons. In addition to hunting zones and hunting seasons, governments also regulate the types of weapons that can be used. Generally speaking, heavy explosives and automatic firearms have extensive laws surrounding them. Consult your local hunting charter for information specific to your area.

Every year, hunters are injured and some are even killed while shooting for sport. There is no way to assure 100% safety when toting guns through the animal-laden wilderness. However, there are several precautions that should be taken before packing up the truck. Here are the top ten hunting safety tips.

  1. Always be sure of what you are shooting at. A rustle in the bushes is not necessarily an animal you want to shoot; or an animal at all!
  2. Do not hunt alone. You should always have someone nearby in case of emergency. Both guns and violent animals can be deadly.
  3. Do not hunt when under the influence of alcohol.
  4. Always wear orange clothing from head to toe. The brighter, the better.
  5. Always hold on to your gun. Never leave it leaning against a tree. It could tip over and fire.
  6. Don’t assume that other hunters are as responsible as you.
  7. Protect your skin as best as possible. No, it won’t deflect bullets but it can protect against insects and poison ivy.
  8. Check for ticks on your skin or clothing periodically. At least once every day you should do a thorough search of your body.
  9. Consider a Lyme disease vaccination if you are planning on hunting in tick-infested areas.
  10. Never climb up to a tree stand while holding a weapon. Use a hoist rope.

Hunting is not the only time when a person might carry a gun. Perhaps you’re visiting the shooting range to practice your aim. Even when you’re not hunting, there are several rules to consider when handling a firearm of any sort. The following are the top five gun safety tips.

  1. Never point the barrel of a gun at a person or object you do not want to shoot.
  2. Identify what lies behind your target. If the bullet misses or passes through, you wouldn’t want to injure another person.
  3. Keep your finger outside of the trigger guard until you’re ready to fire.
  4. When the gun is not in use, keep it unloaded. Especially if it is in a house with children.
  5. Keep the gun locked up and store the ammunition in a separate, locked place.

Additional Hunting Resources:

Hunting Season Resources: