Practice basic safety when hunting

The good news: hunting accidents are on the decline. The bad: there are still too many.

“Hunting is safe and getting safer,” said Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife hunter education coordinator Mark Cousins. “But one moment of carelessness can mean a lifetime of consequences.”

The state sells more than 560,000 hunting licenses every year, resulting in several million hunter recreation days. Since the passage of two laws in 1970 — one requiring hunter education training and another requiring wearing at least 500 square inches of fluorescent orange clothing — hunting accidents have dropped. But even one accident is one too many.

Almost all hunting accidents can be avoided by exercising care, Cousins adds. Safety measures include familiarizing yourself with your gun or bow at a range beforehand; exercising caution when loading and unloading, being well away from your vehicle (it’s illegal to place a loaded firearm in or on a vehicle, and to hunt from one); and unloading when you’re crossing streams and fences and hiking in rough terrain. “The gun’s safety isn’t always enough to prevent it from firing,” he said.

After the hunt, unload your gun well before getting to the vehicle or camp, and triple-check it before placing it in a case or vehicle. “At the end of a long day, it’s more important than ever to be extra careful with firearms,” Cousins said.

Basic safety rulesBasic safety rules

Basic safety rules

■ Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.

■ Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times.

■ Be sure of your target — what is in front of it and what is beyond it.

■ If you’re in doubt about the target, don’t shoot.

■ Keep the safety on and your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

■ Never place your hand over the muzzle of a gun.

■ Load and unload your gun at least 100 yards from your vehicle.

■ Don’t hurry while loading or unloading.

■ Talk about safety issues with youngsters and less experienced hunters.

■ Stop to rest when you are out of breath.

■ Wear daylight fluorescent clothing when and where required.