UtahвЂ™s most popular hunt — the general rifle buck deer hunt — begins Oct. 22.
If youвЂ™re one of the lucky hunters who obtained a permit for the hunt, getting prepared now — by gathering materials and gaining knowledge — are the key to a safe and successful hunt. And while taking a deer is usually the highlight of any deer hunt, make sure you take advantage of all the experiences deer hunting offers.
вЂњDonвЂ™t be so focused on taking a deer that you miss out on everything deer hunting offers,вЂќ says Gary Cook, hunter education
coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources.В вЂњCamping with your family and friends and enjoying UtahвЂ™s wildlife and the beautiful state we live in are all things you can enjoy during your time afield.вЂќ
Cook provides the following tips for an enjoyable and safe hunt:
- Be familiar with the area youвЂ™re going to hunt.В If possible, scout the area before the hunt.В вЂњKnowing the area and the habits and patterns of the deer that live in the area is vital for success,вЂќ Cook says.
- Put a survival kit together.В The kit should include:
- a small first aid kit
- three ways to make a fire (e.g. matches, a cigarette lighter, fire starters)
- quick-energy snack foods
- a cord or rope
- a compass
- a flashlight
- an extra knife
- a small pad of paper and a pencil (so if you become lost, you can leave information at your last location about yourself and the direction youвЂ™re traveling).
Preparing your firearm
- Be as familiar as possible with your firearm — know how to load and unload it, and where the safety is and how to operate it.
- Make sure the barrel of your firearm doesnвЂ™t have any obstructions in it.
- Make sure you have the correct ammunition for your firearm.
- Sight-in your firearm before the hunt.
- Controlling your firearmвЂ™s muzzle is the most important part of firearm safety. Never let the muzzle of your firearm point at anything you do not intend to shoot. That includes not pointing the muzzle at yourself.
- Never carry a loaded firearm in your vehicle.
- DonвЂ™t put your finger on the trigger until your firearmвЂ™s sights are on the target.
- Before shooting, make sure of your target and whatвЂ™s beyond it.
- Make sure your vehicle is in good mechanical condition.
- Make sure you have a shovel, an ax, tire chains, jumper cables and a tow chain in your vehicle.
- If you experience mechanical problems with your vehicle or become snowed in, stay with your vehicle — donвЂ™t leave it.
Before leaving on your trip
- Let someone know where youвЂ™re going and when you expect to return.
While in the field
- Never hunt alone.
- Wear proper safety clothing: 400 square inches of hunter orange on your back, chest and head.
Field dressing your animal
- Use a sharp knife. A sharp knife does a better job of cutting than a dull knife does and is safer to use.
- Cut away from you — never bring a knife blade towards you while cutting.
Your physical well-being
- Know your physical limitations, and donвЂ™t exceed them.
- Prepare yourself for weather changes by dressing in layers. Dressing in layers allows you to regulate your body temperature by adding or removing clothes as needed.
- Drink plenty of water, no matter how cold it is.В вЂњYou can become dehydrated, even in cold weather,вЂќ Cook says.
- Hypothermia (the loss of body temperature) can occur in temperatures as warm as 50 degrees. Be aware of the signs of hypothermia.В Some of the first signs are violent shivering, stumbling or becoming disoriented.В вЂњWhen you notice these signs, sit down immediately and build a fire,вЂќ Cook says. вЂњGet yourself warm and dry.вЂќ
- Frostbite. If youвЂ™re hunting in cold weather, watch for signs that youвЂ™re getting frostbite. White spots on your skin are the first sign. Check your face, feet and hands regularly. YouвЂ™ll notice the first signs of frostbite on your face sooner if youвЂ™re hunting with a companion who can alert you.
If you get lost
- DonвЂ™t panic. Sit down and build a fire, even if it isnвЂ™t cold. вЂњA fire is soothing. Building a fire will help you relax and think clearly,вЂќ Cook says.
After calming down, try to get your bearings and think your way out of the situation. If you think you know which direction you need to travel, get the pad of paper and pencil out of your survival kit and leave a note at your location. Indicate on the note who you are and the direction youвЂ™re traveling. If you find other hunters, donвЂ™t be embarrassed to ask them for directions and help.
If you donвЂ™t know which direction you should travel, stay at your camp and build a shelter several hours before sundown, if possible. Build a smoky fire (this type of fire can be spotted from the air) or build three fires (a distress signal that can also be spotted from the air).
Remaining at your camp is usually a good option. вЂњIf you have to, you can live without food and water for several days,вЂќ Cook says.
Alcohol and firearms donвЂ™t mix!
- Do not handle a firearm if youвЂ™ve been drinking alcohol.
- Do not give alcohol to someone whoвЂ™s cold. Instead of warming the person, alcohol will actually make them colder.