Hunting can be a safe and enjoyable experience, but proper preparation is needed to prevent safety issues. Along with the normal preparation of weapons and hunting gear, awareness of weather, hunting area conditions and personal health should be part of the pre-trip checklist.
Weather conditions are a normal part of hunting, and local hunters are normally aware of area weather. Complacency, however, can lead to problems if unexpected or rapidly changing conditions are not taken into account. Hunters may also travel to areas away from home, where they may not be familiar with local weather. Safety concerns should include proper hydration for hot or cold weather, wearing proper clothing for expected and unforeseen weather, proper nutrition, and awareness of any existing health conditions or treatment of injuries.
Hot or cold weather increases the need for proper hydration, which includes water or electrolyte beverages to prevent dehydration. Along with readily accessible drinking water, options might include purification tablets, equipment to boil water or snow for drinking, or even chemical purification systems for longer trips. Packets of dry electrolyte mixes should be consumed on occasion to maintain proper salt and electrolyte balances in the body, but do not overdo them, as they can cause health problems if used in excess.
Clothing protects hunters from the weather, but can also reduce the chance of getting sick. Layers of breathable lightweight clothing can be added or removed to keep body temperatures normal for changing weather. In addition, clothing can reduce insect bites from mosquitos, flies or ticks that can carry diseases. Advances in clothing design now include lightweight fabrics that reduce ultraviolet (UV) effects from sunlight. Orange is considered a standard safety color for visibility outdoors, but other bright contrasting colors can help to be more visible. Light colors are less attractive to mosquitos, which can be another consideration for hunters who use wet or swampy hunting areas. Include water resistant clothing and shoes or boots, because hypothermia from getting wet can rapidly sap body energy and in extreme conditions lead to death.
Nutrition is important, and hunters should always include food even for short trips. If hunters are delayed or become lost, having dry or prepared foods can make an unexpected longer trip less stressful. Cooking equipment can be compact, but having some food available that does not require cooking or heating can be an advantage when bad weather may prevent using a stove.
Personal health considerations should always be a part of a hunter’s pre-trip checklist. Pilots and other professionals use the IMSAFE checklist, which is an easy way to remember to check for Illness, Medications, Stress, Alcohol, Fatigue, and Eating. If a hunter feels impaired in any way before a trip, the risk for further illness or injury can be much higher. A first aid kit should also be a part of the field supplies, and the kit can contain any prescription medications that may be needed for the expected trip and a few extra days as a safety precaution. Add a supply of sunscreen and bug repellant to complete the safety kit.