There’s no doubt that bow hunting is dangerous for various reasons. The wonderful world of hunting isn’t as simple as it appears. The game may be unpredictable and aggressive, other hunters could be thoughtless and reckless, and finally, mother nature herself might be the most hazardous of all. Bow Hunting—and hunting in general—can be a wonderful, life-affirming experience, but it might be somewhat dangerous if you don’t understand what you’re doing.
So, whether you’re a seasoned bow hunter or someone who’s making their first journey into the woods, it’s imperative to know as much as possible about Bow Hunting Safety and safe hunting. We’ve compiled a list of the basics below, and we’ve divided the advice into broad categories to make things easier.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t a comprehensive list—there will always be some new and unexpected way to put yourself in danger while you’re out in the woods—but it’s a good start, and we’ll add to it as needed.
Wilderness Preparedness and Survival
Table of Contents
One of the reasons we all enjoy hunting is because it allows us to be in nature, in the magnificent outdoors. But it’s easy to overlook that nature has no care for you, and it will harm you if you’re not well-prepared. Here are a few more pointers to bear in mind.
- Carry a First Aid Kit. It doesn’t need to be a high-tech, deluxe kit—all you need are the essentials, such as bandages, some gauze and maybe a little cloth, hydrogen peroxide for cleaning wounds, tweezers, and aspirin. You can get them at small supermarkets or convenience stores for a few dollars. If you already have a first-aid kit in your luggage, there’s no need to buy one.
- Be sure your first-aid kit has everything you need. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than getting nicked somewhere and discovering you’ve used up all of your bandages on a prior hunting excursion. Ensure that the kit is in good working order every time you leave.
- Bring Sunscreen. Sunburns (or worse) is not the most hazardous part of a hunting excursion, but ask anyone who has been sunburned (or worse) about it — recurrent skin damage from the sun isn’t pleasant.
- Bring Repellent for Bugs. It’s also not enjoyable. Whatever bug repellant you use, check to see if it contains tick repellent—tick infestations are on the rise, and Lyme disease is a serious problem—and test your chosen bug repellant before heading out into the field. If it doesn’t pan out—and many of them aren’t worth picking up—keep looking until you find one that is.
- Bring Water. Even when it’s chilly outside, you can lose a surprising amount of water. Bring enough water for yourself (and then a little more!) if you’re going out, regardless of the weather.
- Bring a waterproof fire kit with you at all times. Yes, you intend on returning before it gets dark, but even the most skillful hunters can become lost—and if you have to spend the night outdoors, you’ll appreciate it. You don’t need to be in a cold environment to get hypothermia; once you’re wet (and people are built to get wet—sweating can be a blessing or a curse), your body temperature can plummet like that of still water. Good planning includes having an adequately prepared fire kit.
- Bring your GPS, but also bring along your compass. The 21st-century hunting experience is reliant on technology, and the vast majority of us have some sort of GPS device—which is fantastic and one that you should definitely invest in. However, an old-fashioned tool that can orient you and doesn’t require batteries that might run out may be a lifesaver. A good compass is a crucial (and lightweight) piece of equipment.
- Keep a cell phone in your pocket, and keep it in a little plastic bag to ensure that it isn’t wet or damaged. You used to need a worldwide cell phone—and they’re still quite vital if you’re going to be far out in the boonies—but even a small cellphone can receive a signal these days.
- Bring a Flashlight / Headlamp. If you’ve ever used a cheap flashlight, you’ll know how amazing a high-quality one can be. And if you’ve ever used a high-end headlamp, you’ll learn how much better it is than even a top-of-the-line flashlight. Flashlights are okay, but headlamps are much better. They’re a must-have if you intend on spending the night outside, and they’re a must-have if you don’t.
(By the way, does it all sound like a lot to you? It’s also helpful if you’re still hunting and you need to hold yourself in uncomfortable postures. But, if you ever discover yourself in a situation where your life is in danger, the fact that you brought your first-aid kit/fire starter/compass / etc. will be well worth it.)
- Prepare for the Worst-Case Scenario. Hunters, we know, typically care about camouflage and scent masking more than the actual goal of hunting attire: keeping you safe and comfortable. Know your local climate, check the weather reports, and dress correctly. A hunt isn’t worth much if you perish from exposure.
- Wear your hunter orange at all times. Before obtaining your hunting license, you must wear specific colors in certain locations, as you’ve learned in your hunter education course. Follow the law.
- White should never be worn. Avoid wearing white clothing like undershirts, which might become visible and make you appear like a deer. Try wearing black for your base layers. Last but not least…
- Remember That Nature Is Unpredictable. All it takes is one frightening experience to demonstrate how powerful and deadly nature can be. Take precautions based on common sense. Don’t take chances that aren’t necessary; if a rock ledge is wet, don’t try to ascend it. If a natural wood bridge over a river doesn’t appear robust, it’s probably not because of its material.
Setting Up Your Equipment and Using It
Bow Hunting Safety on the hunt doesn’t begin when you’re glassing game—it starts at home when you’re preparing and executing your checklist. Here are a few things to remember.
- Give your equipment a thorough examination. Gear that’s ready to go improves your hunting success and keeps you safe. So, look for indications of wear—check to see that the lamination on your bow isn’t flaking off the limbs and that the riser is robust; make sure your strings are strong and not fraying; make sure any string silencers you have are functioning; and ensure that your arrows are in good form, with no dents or dings in the shaft. Make sure everything you’ll be using is in good working order before beginning. Rundown each piece of equipment and make sure it’s operational.
- Replace anything that needs to be changed. Hunters of all kinds are from various walks of life, but if there’s one thing that many of the hunters and bow hunters we’ve met have in common, it’s that they’re frugal. It’s not cheap, though it is frugal. They prefer to repair something rather than purchase a new one if it may be fixed. That’s wonderful, of course, but if it implies using a piece of equipment that isn’t dependable, even after you’ve fixed it, this is reckless. Swallow your ego and replace worn-out equipment.
- Make Sure Your Broadheads Are Sharp. You’ve been preparing all year and are ready to go: you’ve adjusted your bow to perfection, prepped your ghillie suit, and broken in your new hunting boots. You’re ready to get started. All of that is meaningless if your arrows aren’t capable of doing the tasks for which they were created. To be effective, your broadheads must be as sharp as possible.
- When sharpening and inserting your broadheads, be careful. Those items are intended to be harmful, and the cuts you suffer while handling them might be deep enough to cause nerve damage. Pay close attention.
- When transporting your arrows, be cautious. However, we have no data on this subject. We’d bet that many of the bow hunting mishaps that happen are 1) before or immediately after the hunt when 2) the hunter is distracted while moving / packing / removing arrows from a quiver. Remember: An arrow is a dangerous instrument; that’s why you use it. Pay attention.
- Make sure everything is in working order. People believe that archers spend the majority of their time shooting, but we actually spend most of our time tuning. That’s because it is extremely vital. Prepare your belongings so that when a chance for a game presents itself, you’ll be able to take it down swiftly and lawfully.
- Keep your arrows in their quivers and covered. This applies to both when you’re getting ready and transporting your gear and when you’re on the prowl. Cover the broadheads on your arrows with a hood and keep them there until you’re ready to shoot.
- Don’t Be Overbowed. Yes, the rate of feet per second is crucial. Yes, a flat trajectory is essential. However, if you’re excessively overbowed, if your draw weight is greater than you can manage, and you’re furiously tugging on the draw string to return it, you’ll fatigue yourself out and make poor, inaccurate shots. Don’t be a hard guy—ensure that your draw weight meets your state’s requirements, but don’t overdo it. A poorly-shot arrow from a bow that has a higher draw weight may be more devastating than an accurately-aimed one fired from a weapon with a lower draw weight.
Tree Stand Safety and Guidelines
Tree stands provide significant benefits, such as watching a large area of ground from an advantageous vantage point and preventing you from sharing your scent with the game on the ground. They’re amazing, but they have some severe dangers for bow hunters when misused. Many excellent hunters and highly intelligent individuals have committed stupid transgressions on tree stands, resulting in a terrible punishment.
So, be more cautious while you’re up there. Bow Hunting Safety for tree stands is a topic on its own, but here are some general recommendations:
- Select a sturdy tree. This should be self-evident, but it’s not, and here’s why: hunters will discover a location that they believe is ideal for hunting, but the trees in the region aren’t outstanding, and they’ll clamber up those trees anyhow because they want to get the shot. This isn’t a good idea. If a tree doesn’t appear to be strong enough to support you, don’t put up your tree stand on it. Look out for signs of damage or decay, and follow the directions—tree stands usually include instructions about the size of the tree, so keep them.
- Heed the Weight Limit. The tree stand manufacturer should disclose the maximum weight that it can bear (and, if they don’t, use a different stand since this is… wait for it… shady). Don’t forget to include your gear in the weight capacity, and pay attention to the tree stand’s maximum weight capacity. Rerun your figures if you’ve acquired a lot of weight since the previous hunting season — it happens to the best of us.
- Be on the lookout for ancient hunting towers. Hunting stands are not always the most sturdy structures globally, and they can succumb to elements over time. Don’t use your permanent tree stand if it’s not sturdy.
- Permanent Stands Must Be Used Extremely Carefully. Some tree stands are fastened to a tree and left in place for the year, so we recommend avoiding them. Many are in completely excellent locations—that’s why they were put there in the first place—but they may be extremely hazardous.
- Always use a high-quality Bow Hunting Safety harness and make sure it’s properly fastened. We cannot emphasize this enough. Injuries that result from falls are frequently severe and sometimes irreversible. The harness is required while you’re climbing the tree and throughout the trip up and down from it. The stand and harness are similar.
- Before you climb a ladder, check to see if there are any steps. Ensure they’re secure, and if they’ve been wet from rain or snow or dew, attempt to dry them off as quickly as possible.
- Use the three-point rule and be careful when climbing. The Three-Point rule is easy to understand: always make sure you have three points of contact with whatever you’re climbing on, and move one body part at a time. Move your left hand to the next step if you have three points of contact on the ladder with both feet and your right hand (both feet + right hand = three points of contact). Once you’ve found your balance, move your right hand up a rung and maintain both legs and your left hand on the ladder. Now take a step with your right foot. Your left foot is next. Move one body part at a time when ascending or descending the ladder to maintain three points of contact.
- Make sure your Bow Hunting Safety harness is on while you’re up there. Despite the fact that you’re not moving around much, the harness might come off. If everything is fastened securely, it’s unlikely that anything went wrong. Check it, though.
- To Get Your Gear, Use a Haul Line. Don’t use your bow to climb up with—use a haul line to bring everything up to you and then lower it.
- Ensure your people are aware of the Location of your Stand. That’s wonderful for you—if you need assistance, they’ll know where to find you—but it’s also beneficial for them: if someone you care about has an emergency, they’ll be able to seek your help because you’ve informed them where you are.
- Take care of the edges. Always keep an eye on where the platform’s edge is when you’re up there. The majority of the ledges are tiny, and falling and slipping are something you don’t want to happen.
- Don’t nod your head. Sleeping on the ground blind isn’t ideal, but it isn’t the worst thing in the world. Sleeping in a tree stand isn’t perfect, and it’s potentially dangerous.
Although tree stands are fantastic tools, they are hazardous, so use caution. Remember that this isn’t a complete list of tree stand safety suggestions—these are simply some examples. Read your owner’s handbook, contact the company if you have any questions, and double-check that you understand how to operate your tree stand safely.
Good Hunting Drill
When you’re hunting—really on the mountain / in the woods / wherever—there are many things to consider. Here are some Bow Hunting Safety suggestions.
- If you’re a newbie, get help from someone who knows the ropes. You’ll learn a lot (and you should ask as many questions as you can), not to mention that if something goes wrong, your hunting partner may get assistance. Even the tiniest issue—like a sprained ankle—can develop into a major problem when you’re on your own. Bow Hunting Safety in numbers is there.
- Let people know when you’ll return. This is what we call “best practices,” regardless of whether you go alone or with a friend. Allow people to know when you’ll be back so that they may seek for you if anything goes wrong.
- Always keep your hunting license on you. This instruction set will help you stay safe in terms of bodily protection, but this advice will also protect you legally. Keep your hunting license on you (and, if possible, sealed in a waterproof envelope or bag) if you come into contact with a game warden or state official. Always remember and adhere to the hunting rules established by your state or province, as well.
- Make sure you stay within your hunting range. The region you’re hunting in may be huge, but it eventually ends somewhere. Ensure you hunt on the land designated for hunting and avoid any prohibited areas, whether private property or the public domain.
- It’s worth noting that you may not be—and, more than likely, aren’t—the only hunter on the block. When hunting, you must be aware of the hazards that other hunters may cause to you and the risks that you pose to them. Always—be sure of what you’re aiming at and consider the possibility of a hunter behind the game you want to target. Once you’ve seen the game, be sure there are no hunters pursuing it. You can miss—and your arrow may hit the other hunter—but it’s possible that even if you hit your target, it will pass through it and strike the second shooter.
- Some of the Individuals out there may not be Hunters. There are numerous locations throughout the world that were not only built for hunting but also for trekking and camping, and many of those hikers are oblivious to your presence. You are left to assume all of the risks associated with their protection.
- Keep away from farms and roads. You might have been told that most hunting takes place within a single mile of the nearest roadway. We couldn’t find any research suggesting this, but it does seem to be true, and if you’re within a mile of the road, you’ll be near other people. Always assume you’re not the only person in your area.
- Don’t go hunting on private property without permission. That appears to be a no-brainer—and the correct thing to do—but it has an element of self-preservation: if a private landowner has permitted another hunter to use his property. He doesn’t realize you’re there, too… the chances are that the hunter does not know you are there, and he believes no one else is hunting in conjunction with him. That is why it’s more hazardous for you. So, be sure to obtain permission before hunting on private property since 1) it is the law, 2) it is the correct thing to do, and 3) you are much more likely to get into trouble if you don’t have permission.
- Be in Good Physical Condition, and Maintain Your Limits. Hunting with a bow is a demanding sport, and it’s critical to understand your limits. If you’re spot-and-stalking for the game, particularly in the West, where you’ll need to cover a lot of territories, you’ll almost certainly discover some hazardous ground. You’re putting yourself in danger if you can’t cover it. Before you go, try to maintain good health and fitness.
- Make sure you know the land. The more you know about the territory in which you’re hunting, the more likely you are to catch what you’re after and the less likely you are to get lost.
Shooting Bow Hunting Safety Suggestions
- What’s ahead of, behind, and beyond your target? You’ll be able to shoot far and fast with heavy-weight compounds, as your arrows will fly considerably farther and quicker than typical compound bows. You must have complete knowledge of everything surrounding your target, including what lies behind it. If you’re a bow hunter, keep that in mind because it’s very important.
- If you don’t hit your target, your arrow and its sharp broadhead can keep going long after it misses.
- Even though you hit your target, your arrow can go through your prey and continue sailing beyond it—towards anything behind it. It’s critical to have a complete understanding of your quarry’s circumstances.
- Never shoot over a ridge. You have no clue what lies beyond that ridge. This is also known as “skyline photography,” and it’s extremely hazardous. Regardless of how impressive the game is, it’s a no-go.
- Simply aim your bow and arrow at a target. Rule #1 in archery safety: If you don’t want to hit something, don’t aim your bow at it. It implies nocking your arrow only when it’s safe and sure you’ll fire.
- During the twilight hours, be extra cautious. The early morning and late afternoon—to say nothing of the light during midday—can fool your eyes, and your sight can be hampered. If you’re having difficulty deciding on a target, stop immediately.
- Be wary of the beast! Bow hunting necessitates that you approach your target very, very close. Hunters who use rifles may sit at a safe distance, but bow hunters must get up close and personal with the animals they wish to take. As we’ve previously said on this site, a dangerous wild game exists! Always anticipate that an animal will be aggressive, and plan for the unexpected. Know and understand the animal’s habitats and behaviors before going out on an excursion.
Common-Sense / Other Bow Hunting Safety Suggestions
Here are a few more suggestions that didn’t quite fit into the above categories but deserve to be mentioned.
- No illegal drugs, no alcohol. When bow hunting, you’re engaged in a hazardous endeavor. Your five senses dull if you use drugs or alcohol. Calculate the math. You’re drinking when you’re drinking. You’re hunting when you’re out hunting. These are sentiments to live by. But, keep in mind that.
- “Drugs” Includes Medication. There are plenty of archers—including our fathers and grandfathers, who may be in their seventies or older—on some sort of medication. Suppose any medicines you’re taking have undesirable effects, such as lightheadedness, dizziness, tiredness, or vision problems, such as blurred vision after initiating the trip (which may indicate an allergy). In that case, you could need to postpone it until the side effects are gone. If your drug puts you or those around you in danger, it’s the correct thing to do.
- Become a Good Archer. It’s easy to assume that this is obvious, but it’s critical: improve your abilities. The more time you put into archery training, following archery Bow Hunting Safety measures, and fine-tuning your aim, the safer—and more successful—bow hunter you’ll be.
- Young Bow hunters and novices should be wary. We don’t have any statistical data to back this up, but we’ve noticed that novice archers are the most likely to hurt themselves or others. This makes sense—new bow hunters and younger people may not be familiar with the ropes, and they certainly don’t have as much expertise as older hunters. If you’re going with novices or youngsters, be extra cautious. Keep an eye on them and be careful. Literally—keep a close eye on their every action!
Remember always to have fun, be cautious, and good luck!