Wyoming Department of Game and Fisheries

Safety first for hunting season

No matter the species or method of harvesting, it’s wise to know and follow a few safety tips to ensure that dream hunting doesn’t turn into tragedy.

08/29/2022 22:15:08

CheyenneHunting season has started in some areas and is fast approaching in other parts of Wyoming. No matter the species or method of harvesting, it’s wise to know and follow a few safety tips to ensure that dream hunting doesn’t turn into tragedy.

Katie Simpson, hunter education coordinator for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, and many hunter education instructors around the state use the acronym TABK to remember four key safety items:


  • Treat each firearm as if it were loaded.
  • Always point your muzzle in a safe direction.
  • Be sure of your target and what lies beyond.
  • Keep your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to fire.

“Our most common case of hunting-related accidents in Wyoming usually involves a vehicle, either loading firearms into or out of the vehicle, or rolling over the vehicle and accidentally pulling the trigger. The second more common involves overcoming obstacles,” Simpson said.

It’s not illegal to drive with a loaded firearm in Wyoming, but it’s not always safe. Simpson said if hunters choose to drive with a loaded firearm, it’s advised they don’t have a cartridge in the chamber.

Dan Smith, Game and Fish’s acting deputy wildlife chief, said hunters should have a good working knowledge of their firearms.

“Loading and unloading a rifle or a shotgun is a time when I see people getting a little careless,” he said. “I checked people out in the field who didn’t know how to unload their shotgun without pulling the trigger. Just knowing how your firearm works takes away a lot of the risk of accidents.

There are times when big game archers and rifle hunters can be in the field at the same time. People who hunt big game or trophy game during an open regular season are required by law to wear fluorescent orange or pink in the field, regardless of what weapon they are hunting with. Archers are not required to wear these colors when hunting during a special archery season or an archery-only season.

As for being sure of your target and what’s beyond, Simpson used an example near Cheyenne several years ago about its importance. A hunter was after the pronghorn and shot one atop a ridgeline. The bullet missed, but overshot its target by about a mile and hit a car traveling on Interstate 80. No one was injured, but the bullet shattered a window.

Simpson also said hunters shouldn’t use spotting scopes as binoculars.

“The person receiving can raise binoculars and see someone pointing a gun at them,” she said.

Here are some more tips from Simpson:

  • Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
  • Bring more gear than you think you’ll need, including more layers of clothing, food, and water.
  • Be aware of hypothermia and its symptoms. Simpson said exposure to hypothermia usually occurs in unprepared hunters when the ambient temperature is 40 to 60 degrees.
  • If you get lost, stay where you are, whether on foot or in a vehicle. This is especially true if you’ve told someone where you are.

(Sara DiRienzo, Public Information Officer – ([email protected]))


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