- Treat every gun as it were loaded
- Always keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction
- Know your target and beyond
- Know where your party is at all times
IN THE FIELD
- Always wear Orange.
- Shoot your zone
- Each hunter has a “zone” where they can shoot safely. Envision standing face forward on the firing line with arms outstretched in front of your body held in a “V” formation at about 45 degrees.
- This will be each individuals zone
- This zone should take into account other hunters, handlers, and dogs. Check your zone before a shot presents itself so you know where potential danger areas are
- Maintain a parallel line
- On flushing hunts shooters and their parties should maintain a constant parallel line with each other. If the path leads to uneven ground make sure that everyone knows where everyone in their party is, in case others might be hidden by terrain or brush
- Shoot on Blue Sky
- When flushing birds out, let the birds get above the undergrowth into “blue sky” before you shoot.
- Make sure that the direction of your shot is safely above the heads of dogs and hunters. Do not be afraid to yell out “low bird” if you feel the shot is not safe.
- The standard is to maintain at least a six foot elevation on all attempted shots, it is not uncommon for an athletic bird dog to jump higher after the bird takes flight. If a dog is approaching the target bird the shot should be held
WHEN IN DOUBT, DON’T SHOOT
A very good principle to adhere to is:
If you have any doubt as to the angle of the shot, location of another hunter or dog, or you just don’t feel right about taking it, hold your fire. There will be more birds. An unsafe hunter is totally unacceptable. Bird hunting puts hunters in closer proximity to each other than most other pursuits. Bad things could happen fast and it is ABSOLUTLY CRUCIAL that you exercise safe gun handling and sound judgment. No human or canines life is worth risking over a bad decision.