Hunters in the Know Come Home Safely

Hunting in Michigan is an honored pastime that can foster an appreciation for the outdoors and area wildlife. Unfortunately, every year injuries happen as a result of hunting-related accidents. Before your next hunting trip, review these firearm safety tips from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources:

  • Watch the muzzle and keep it pointed in a safe direction at all times.
  • Treat every firearm with the respect of a loaded gun. It might be loaded, even if you think it isn’t.
  • Check your barrel and ammunition. Make sure the barrel is clear of obstructions and carries the proper ammunition for your firearm.
  • Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot to prevent an accidental discharge.
  • Point a firearm only at something you are ready to shoot.
  • Be sure of the target and what is in front of it and beyond it. Make sure you have an adequate backstop. Don’t shoot at a flat surface or water.
  • Unload firearms when not in use. Leave the action open and carry firearms in cases to and from the shooting area.
  • Do not run, jump or climb with a loaded firearm.
  • Pull a firearm toward you by the butt, not the muzzle.
  • Store firearms and ammunition safely and separately. Store each in secured locations out of the reach of children and careless adults.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages and mind/behavior-altering medicines before or during shooting. If in doubt about your prescription, ask your family physician.

Falls are the leading cause of injury
The Treestand Manufacturers Association (TMA) recommends these safety guidelines:

  • Hunt with a plan, a destination and a buddy if possible. Let someone at home know your plan.
  • Have a cell phone, whistle, flashlight and/or other signal device that can be reached easily if you are suspended during a fall.
  • Select a proper tree for your stand based on recommendations from the treestand manufacturer.
  • Elevated platforms should be no higher than 10 feet from the ground.
  • Wear a Fall-Arrest System (FAS)/full body harness that meets TMA standards at all times.
  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions and practice at ground level prior to using a treestand.
  • Inspect the treestand and safety harness for signs of wear or damage before each use.
  • Attach the harness per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Choose a harness that has a quick release system-one that will hold you upright and not restrict breathing if you fall.
  • Always use a haul line to pull up your unloaded gun or bow and gear to your stand once you’ve reached your destination.
  • Do not climb with anything on your back or in your hands. Lower your equipment on the opposite side of the tree prior to descending.
  • Never use homemade stands or make modifications to a purchased elevated platform.
  • Never hurry! Make slow even movements of no more than a foot at a time when climbing.
  • Maintain three points of contact with the ladder before moving, such as two arms and one leg.

If you experience a hunting-related accident or injury, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department. Spectrum Health United Memorial Kelsey and United hospitals are available 24/7 to meet all of your emergency needs.

Safety Classes for First Time Hunters
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources conducts hunter safety classes for all first-time hunters born on or after January 1, 1960. Courses cover firearm safety, conservation, responsibility, survival and first aid. Ethics are also stressed to sustain and nurture the outdoors and to encourage hunters to act responsibly toward wildlife and other outdoor enthusiasts. For more information visit

Spectrum Health United Memorial is committed to providing excellent personal care and services through state-of-the-art technology and qualified, caring staff at the Kelsey Hospital in Lakeview and the United Hospital in Greenville. Spectrum Health United Memorial provides local access to quality care through the region’s largest health care system.