As hunting season gets under way, hunters should remember firearm safety must be their primary concern. Accidental deaths and injuries have dropped dramatically since hunter education became a requirement for New Mexico hunters under the age of 18 in 1977. Unfortunately, hunting accidents still occur due to carelessness. Thousands of hunters take to the field each year without incident, but one bad decision can prove deadly.
To stay safe, hunters should memorize these four safety rules and always follow them:
- Treat all firearms as if they are loaded. Horseplay is never safe.
- Control the muzzle of your firearm. Never point a gun at anything you do not want to shoot.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target and ready to shoot.
- Know your target and what is beyond it.
New Mexico conservation officers investigate all reported hunting accidents. Most are self-inflicted and occur when hunters think their gun is unloaded. Even though it is not illegal to have a loaded firearm in a vehicle, it is never safe. Whether you are in camp or in a vehicle, always unload and check the gun. If you cross an obstacle or a fence, unload and leave the action open.
Hunters must identify their targets, and anyone going into a hunting area should wear orange. Alcohol and firearms do not mix. Save the celebration for after the hunt. Throughout the hunting season, officers will be checking hunters for violations.
To report a wildlife-law or safety violation, please contact a Department of Game and Fish conservation officer or call the toll-free Operation Game Thief hotline, (800) 432-GAME (4263). Callers can remain anonymous and may earn rewards if information leads to criminal charges.
Logo courtesy New Mexico Department of Game and Fish