Hunting Safety Tips

Hunting Regulations Icon Maryland Hunting

Tree stands can be dangerous if they are used incorrectly or carelessly. Tree stand accidents are the leading cause of hunter injuries in Maryland. This follows the national trend in that over 50 percent 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 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 and repair all tree stands and climbing equipment every year before hunting.
  • 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 full-body safety harness/fall restraint system and a lifeline when climbing a tree or in a tree stand. Never use a waist belt or rope as a substitute for this safety equipment.
  • 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 them 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 or where rescuers will find it. Include specifically where you will hunt and when you will return. Include a map to better explain your location.
  • Keep a survival pack with you that includes 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 on tree stand safety is available at tmastands.com.

Firearms Safety Tips

  • Treat every gun as if it were loaded. Never play with a firearm.
  • Never point a gun at anything you don’t want to shoot.
  • Always control the muzzle direction in case of a fall.
  • Keep the barrel and action clear of obstructions. Carry only the proper ammunition for your firearm.
  • Be sure of your target and what is beyond it. Always know the identifying features of the game you hunt.
  • Unload guns and open the action when not in use.
  • 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.

Archery Safety Tips

  • Always identify your target and background before you shoot.
  • Never walk or climb a tree with a knocked arrow in a vertical bow or a crossbow loaded with a bolt.
  • Unload or uncock your crossbow before transporting. An unloaded crossbow does not have a bolt or arrow in the firing position. Uncock it by using an uncocking device or by shooting into a safe backstop.
  • Keep your fingers and thumb down on the crossbow forearm out of the path of travel for the string and cables.
  • Never shoot if there is a doubt about the shot.
  • Never shoot if the animal is alert and excited.
  • Know exactly where the arrow or bolt will hit before you pull the trigger or release the string (practice, practice, practice).
  • Limit shots to distances you are accurate and comfortable with (typically 40 yards maximum for crossbows and 30 yards for vertical bows).
  • Always use manufacturer recommended arrow or bolt weights.
  • Practice with the same type broadhead you plan to hunt with.

Turkey Hunting Safety Tips

Follow these suggestions to ensure a safe turkey hunting experience:

  • Leave the area if you suspect there’s another hunter already working the same bird.
  • Resist the urge to stalk turkey sounds as they could be made by another hunter.
  • Select a spot that is in open timber rather than thick brush: wearing camouflage clothing and eliminating movement is more critical to success than hiding in heavy cover.
  • Sit against a large stump, blow-down, tree trunk or rock that is wider than your shoulders and higher than your head when calling wild turkeys.
  • Never wear bright colors, especially not red, white, blue or black because these are the colors of a wild turkey gobbler. Watch out for red, white or blue on your socks, t-shirts, hooded sweatshirts, hats, bandanas etc. Wear dark undershirts and socks, and pants long enough to be tucked into boots.
  • Remain still and speak in a loud, clear voice to announce your presence to other hunters if necessary. Never move, wave or make turkey sounds to alert another hunter of your presence.
  • Keep your hands and head camouflaged when calling.
  • Maintain a clear field of view when using a camouflage blind or netting.
  • Ensure your decoy is not visible when you are transporting it. Stash the decoy in your vest and make sure the head is not sticking out.
  • If you harvest a wild turkey during your hunting trip, you should cover the bird’s head and body when carrying it out from your hunting spot.
  • Put your gun’s safety on and approach the downed bird with your firearm pointed in a safe direction after firing. Never run with a firearm.
  • Use extreme caution if using a turkey decoy or any part of a decoy to shield your approach to a turkey. This action could draw the attention of another hunter and lead to an accident.