1) First and foremost, don’t tote a loaded rifle or shotgun; if you were to fall while carrying a loaded weapon, it could discharge, injuring you or another member of your party. Don’t load your weapon until you reach your position. While your weapon is loaded, keep it pointed in a safe direction and keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
2) “Tell your significant other, the other guys in your party, or your best friend where you are going and when you intend to be home,” Ritz says. “Everybody has Google maps nowadays. Bring up the map, drop a pin and let people know where you are.”
3) Carry a cellphone. “If you are in a remote area where you don’t have cell coverage, consider buying a satellite phone. They are very inexpensive nowadays. What is a couple of hundred dollars when it come to safety?” Ritz also suggests carrying a navigation device that has state of the art communication features such as texting and connecting with social media such as the DeLorme InReach SE.
4) Dress in layers. “It is critical when you move because you want to keep perspiration down to a minimum. You don’t want to put that dampness or moisture into your clothes. You need to shed or add those layers as needed.”
5) Don’t wear cotton. Ritz says all synthetic materials are better. Buy high-tech materials that wick moisture away from your body and clothes. And don’t forget to pack a lightweight jacket and poncho in your backpack. “Wind is actually the biggest threat when it comes to hypothermia.”
6) Treat your hunting dog like another member of your team. “Make sure your dog wears an orange vest as well,” Ritz says. “If you are waterfowl hunting, I recommend a neoprene vest because the dog can get cold.” Don’t forget to bring water and food. And “don’t push them too hard. They need rest too.”
7) Finally: Be prepared to spend one night in the woods. “Bring an extra power bar. Make sure you have a poncho if you need to build a temporary shelter. And don’t forget a flashlight and matches.”