By Shelby Perry
It’s hunting season, and this year I’m working through my end-of-semester stress with a rifle. I’ve never been a hunter before, but, as a native Vermonter, deer camp, hunter-safety orange, and the first rule of gun safety (always point your muzzle in a safe direction!) have been in my vocabulary since childhood. As I prepare for my first rifle season as a hunter, I have been surprised to find that many of my classmates did not grow up around hunting, and haven’t really thought about what it might mean to them. Staying safe during hunting season really boils down to three main points, and shouldn’t be intimidating or frightening.
- Be visible. Wearing hunter-safety orange any and every time you go out in the woods during rifle season is a must. A lot of people think wearing any bright color will do, but almost nothing is more visible and recognizable as human in the late fall forest than hunter-safety orange.
- Be respectful. Few things are more frustrating for a hunter who has been shivering silently in a tree stand since dawn than a person or dog thrashing obliviously past. If you think there might be a hunter already in the woods it’s best to stick to heavily traveled trails or to just avoid the area during rifle season altogether. Less about safety and more about etiquette, respecting other legal uses of the forests you love is a condition on which your own access depends.
- Take it seriously. “It won’t happen to me” is the wrong approach to safety during hunting season. Spend 8 hours looking for deer in the woods and your brain will start to make them out of everything – tree branches are antlers, the crunching leaves under a retreating rabbit are footsteps. I am not condoning the actions of anyone who would pull the trigger before being absolutely certain of their target, but I am saying that it is wise to set yourself up for success. Never assume your safety is someone else’s responsibility.