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Safety Blog

Filtering by Tag: safety


Sasha Landskov

Do you know the first thing to do before you go predator hunting and what to do when you return from your hunt? It’s important to take extra caution when hunting with kids, but even more so while hunting predators in a group. Shooting in groups requires specific ways to sit to ensure everyone is safe and the shooter has a clear view. You’ll want to protect yourself and others from diseases that animals can carry. Hunter orange may not be required, but should you wear it?

Predator hunting is a great challenge for all age levels, so be sure to keep safety your priority. Watch Haley Heath and her son Gunnar and daughter Dakota as they tell you their best tips for your next predator hunt. Remember to have fun and enjoy the outdoors, but be safe!

Tips For Turkey Safety

Sasha Landskov

By Brad Fitzpatrick

Spring is a great time to chase gobblers, but safety should remain your top priority

The wild turkey, Meleagris gallopavo, is one of North America’s great conservation success stories. These birds were hunted nearly to extinction at the turn of the twentieth century, but by the early 2,000s their numbers had expanded into the millions and turkey populations were stronger than at any time since the Civil War. Much of funding that helped these birds make such a remarkable comeback came courtesy of hunters and the monies they helped raise through the purchase of licenses and hunter-based conservation organizations like the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Today, many hunters spend the spring months looking for mature toms, also known as gobblers, and with so many turkey populations in so many states there’s a good chance that there is an opportunity to hunt these birds close to you. Turkey hunting requires skill, patience, and resilience, but the excitement of the hunt shouldn’t cause you to overlook safety. Here are some tips that will help you stay safe this turkey season.

1. Make Absolutely Certain of Your Target: The use of decoys is common in turkey hunting, and most decoys look very lifelike. In days gone by, the most common decoys were hen decoys, but today more and more hunters are using tom and jake (young toms, identifiable by the longer center feathers in their tail fan) decoys. For this reason it’s extremely important to take the time to identify your target before you shoot. Strutting toms don’t always give you an ample opportunity to shoot, but you must err on the side of caution. If you come upon a strutting bird take the time to be sure that it is a real turkey and not a lifelike decoy, watching for movement and change of position. Identifying your target is also important because in most hunting areas shooting hens is not allowed, so you need to see the beard, coloration, and spurs that identify a tom.

2. Know What’s Beyond Your Target: As you probably learned in your hunter safety course, this is important in all facets of hunting, but particularly important when turkey hunting. The reason is that, unlike other forms of hunting, turkey hunters frequently sit on the ground in full camouflage hidden by dense cover. Each spring there are accidents where one hunter shoots another because there was a turkey (either a real bird or a decoy) positioned between them. If you can’t identify what’s beyond the bird then don’t shoot. It may be tempting to take a quick shot at a tom on the edge of a wood line but you must take the time to identify what is beyond the target.

3. Wear Orange When Moving: Many hunters are keying on movement when turkey hunting, and that can be dangerous. It’s important, then, to minimize your chances that someone else will confuse you for a turkey and accidentally take a shot. For this reason I always wear a vest while walking to and from the field that has hunter orange. Having orange on makes you much more visible and identifiable as a human, so I have a pack with an orange flag that I wear every time I head out (even in total darkness before sunrise). This is especially important when you are exiting the field, too; many successful hunters carry their bird over their shoulder, and this can lead to cases of mistaken identity by other hunters for obvious reasons. I always wrap my turkey in an orange bag or vest when exiting the field to ensure that it will not be mistaken for a live bird by another hunter. If you don’t have an orange vest, don’t worry—you can easily find a hunter orange flag or vest (you probably have some orange garment at home already if you are a deer hunter) and this can be used for identification. Be sure to cover the front and back of your garments, and to further reduce the chances I’ll be identified as a turkey when walking out of the woods I try to avoid walking through dense cover. If you are in the open there’s less chance that another turkey hunter will be confused and will think that you are a bird.

Safety is our top priority every time we go to the field. Turkey hunting is one of the most exciting and challenging of all hunts, but you must be sure that you stay safe. Pay attention to all of the rules outlined in your hunter education course and avoid situations that put you or others at risk.

ATV and Side-by-Side Vehicle Safety in the Outdoors

Sasha Landskov

ATVs and Side-by-Side (SxS) vehicles are common place in hunting camps, whether you’re after whitetail or mule deer, turkeys or mallards, elk or antelope. Matter of fact, many hunters use them year-round for scouting, food plotting and recreational riding. These tough and versatile off-road vehicles help outdoorsmen reach remote areas and favorite hunting spots while carrying in gear and hauling out game.

But just like unloading your gun before crossing a fence or never aiming at something you don’t intend to shoot, there are some basic safety lessons to be learned before mounting an ATV or getting into an SxS vehicle.

There are many things to consider when talking ATV safety. One of the best ways to learn is through an ATV safety course, like the one taught by Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA), a not-for-profit trade association whose primary goal is to promote the safe and responsible use of ATVs.  The SVIA (800-887-2887) offers a free online e-course and information about their riding classes. The riding classes will show you basic riding techniques as well as teach you about the proper riding gear and the difference between vehicle types and sizes.

Additionally, the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA) offers more information and detailed recommendations (like always wear a seat belt and never drive a SxS unless you’re 16 or older with a valid driver’s license), along with a free, interactive multimedia e-course.

You might not think you need to strap on your helmet for every outing, but you’d be wrong. Safety should always come first. Proper riding gear always includes:

  • Helmet (with a Department of Transportation approved sticker)
  • Eye protection
  • Gloves (consider weather conditions, comfort and protection)
  • Long pants and long sleeves
  • Over-the-ankle boots (for support and protection)

Choosing Your Vehicle

he proper gear is a good start, and picking the right ATV or SxS vehicle is another important step. Today’s ATVs range in size, from entry level ATVs with 50-125cc engines up to “big bore” machines with 700cc motors. Be sure to try different levels (within your age range) and consider where and how you plan to ride. While you might think you need the biggest ATV on the market, there’s a good chance you can cover most terrain on a range of vehicles. Check with a local dealership or find a Yamaha demo ride to see which fits you best.

Another question to ask yourself these days: Need more than one seat?

This has become an increasingly important consideration the past few years as Yamaha’s lineup of SxS vehicles has opened up another option for exploring the outdoors.

Traditional ATVs are specifically designed for a single rider only. You should never allow a passenger on a traditional ATV. SxS vehicles are designed specifically for two or more with an automotive-type cab and operation functions (bucket seats, safety belts, steering wheel and foot peddles for throttle and braking).

ATVs are “rider active vehicles” which means you participate in the proper operation of the machine by moving around and shifting your weight, depending on the circumstances and terrain. These movements are best learned under the supervision of an SVIA instructor.

SxS vehicles are very off-road capable, and the automotive-like cab can be confidence-inspriring, but drivers should always drive within their experience level and take particular care in off-road situations.

Responsible Riding While Hunting

Once you are up to speed on proper riding techniques and safety gear, you are ready to insert this experience into your hunting trip. Responsible riding and ethical hunting will help guarantee you get the most out of your outdoor experience while taking care of the outdoors and promoting a positive image also we can all continue to enjoy these sports in the future. Always learn and follow the hunting laws and restrictions in your area, and consider some of these tips for responsible riding while hunting:

Always unload and properly store your firearm before operating your ATV or SxS vehicle. And NEVER hunt from your vehicle.

Learn and follow riding regulations including sound levels, safety gear requirements, age limits and safety course recommendations and requirements. Refer to on-product labels and your owner’s manual for detailed instructions and warnings on proper and safe operation of the vehicles.

Watch for and be considerate of others in the area including private property owners and other hunters.

When on public land, use up-to-date trail maps to assure you only ride in permitted areas and on designated open trails.

Inspect and clean your vehicle to remove seeds, weeds and other vegetation and prevent the transfer of non-native invasive species to other areas.

Follow your vehicle manufacturers recommended maintenance schedule and regularly check for any fluid leaks or problems that might negatively impact the environment or your vehicles performance.

Set a positive example, especially when riding with younger or less experienced riders.

Taking an ATV or SXS hunting can be both extremely helpful and a lot of fun. Even if you never take a shot, your ride out and back can be a blast. To learn more, check out Yamaha Outdoors Tip of the Week online.