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Safety Tips

Crossbow safety tips

  • Maximum effective range is 40 yards.
  • Know exactly where the arrow will hit before you pull the trigger (practice, practice, practice).
  • Never walk or climb a tree with a crossbow cocked and loaded with an arrow.
  • Always use manufacturer recommended arrow weights.
  • Practice with the same type broadhead you plan to hunt with.
  • Keep your fingers and thumb down on the crossbow forearm out of the path of travel for the string and cables.
  • Always identify your target and background before you shoot.
  • Never shoot if there is a doubt about the shot.
  • Never shoot if the animal is alert and excited.
  • Unload or uncock your crossbow before transporting. An unloaded crossbow does not have a bolt or arrow in the firing postiton. Uncock it by using an uncocking device or by shooting into a safe backstop.

Tree stand safety tips

Tree stands can be dangerous if they are used incorrectly or carelessly. Tree stand accidents are the leading cause of hunter injuries in Maryland. Maryland follows the national trend in that over 50% of all hunting accidents are tree stand related. Most tree stand accidents occur in transition from a climbing device to the tree stand and from the tree stand onto the climbing device. Other injuries occur when the tree stand fails (usually home made stands) or from the incorrect installation of a manufactured stand.

Please follow these safety tips. Your life or livelihood may depend on it.

  • Always read, understand and practice the manufacturer’s recommendations before using any climbing equipment or tree stand.
  • Check permanent tree stands every year before hunting from them. Replace any worn or weak parts.
  • Check your equipment before and during the season for loose, broken or worn parts.
  • Use updated equipment. Newer tree stand equipment is solid, safe and secure.
  • Always practice installing a hang-on tree stand at ground level before attempting an elevated installation.
  • Always use a fall restraint system while climbing a tree.
  • Use a full body safety harness as part of your fall restraint system. Never use a waist belt or rope as a substitute for a full body safety harness while in a tree stand.
  • Only climb healthy trees.
  • Use your climbing device or tree stand for support; branches may give way under your weight.
  • Use three points of contact with the tree or climbing device for a secure hold.
  • Climb higher than your stand and step down onto it. Climbing up into the stand can dislodge it causing a fall.
  • Wear boots with non-skid soles. Steps or platforms may be slippery in rain, sleet, or snow.
  • When using a two piece climbing stand, make sure to connect the two pieces with a strap or rope to prevent the bottom portion from dropping away.
  • Never carry anything while you are climbing. Use a haul line to get hunting devices and other equipment into and out of your stand. Make sure guns and crossbows are unloaded and broadheads are covered prior to raising or lowering firearms, crossbows, or bows with a haul line.
  • As a precautionary measure, clear the ground of debris below your stand and climbing device.
  • If you are sleepy, climb down from your stand and hunt from the ground.
  • Leave a hunting plan with a responsible adult. Include specifically where you will hunt and when you will return. Draw a map to better explain your location. If no one is available for you to tell, leave this information at your camp or in your vehicle for rescuers to find.
  • Carry a survival pack with you that you keep on your person. This should include a whistle, cell phone, flashlight, and a basic first aid kit.
  • Never hunt from a tree stand without using a full body safety harness.
  • More information and an online course on tree stand safety are available at

Firearms safety tips

  • Treat every gun as if it were loaded. Watch the muzzle! Prepare to control the direction of the muzzle even if you stumble.
  • Be sure the barrel and action are clear of obstructions and that you have only ammunition of the proper size for the gun you are carrying.
  • Be sure of your target and what is beyond it before you pull the trigger; know the identifying features of the game you hunt.
  • Unload guns when not in use. Take down or have actions open. Guns should be carried in cases to the shooting area.
  • Never point a gun at anything you don’t want to shoot or kill. Do not play with a firearm.
  • Never climb a tree or jump a ditch with a loaded gun. Never pull the gun toward you by the muzzle.
  • Never shoot a bullet at flat, hard surfaces or water.
  • Store guns and ammunition separately, beyond the reach of children and careless adults. Use trigger locks.
  • Never use alcoholic beverages or medications that cause drowsiness before or during the use of a firearm.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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