The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has initiated a new regulation concerning youth hunter safety. Starting Aug. 1, 2011, all “hunters age 17 and under are required to wear a hunter (fluorescent) orange exterior garment or hat when hunting game mammals or upland game birds (except turkey) with any firearm.”
This means minors will need to wear some kind of blaze orange garment or patch in all hunting situations that involve guns. What you can wear depends on the context, so make sure to review the ODFW rules before your next hunting trip.
The goal of the new rule is to help prevent hunting accidents, as other hunters may not see you in your camouflage without some obvious indicator, and accidental shootings can often end in serious injury or death. Similar youth hunting laws have been passed in forty other states.
Unless you are a master with hunting knives, chances are you hunt wild game with a firearm or bow. Hence, here are a handful of safety tips all youth hunters should follow:
Water safety. When you are water hunting, it is extremely important to avoid getting too cold. Hypothermia and drowning are two leading causes of hunting deaths, and they often happen in combination. Dress accordingly, but always bring extra dry clothes. Try to stay as dry as possible on the inside, and add extra layers when needed. Avoid heavy bogs and deep water, and bring a good hunting knife in case you get entangled while in the water. Also, make sure you have a proper hunting belt for your hunting knives and gear to avoid getting caught up by loose equipment.
Perception. Always keep your eyes and ears on your surroundings, especially before you aim at or shoot anything. Never fire without identifying your target first. Practice keen perception by listening actively and slowly gazing across your field of vision. Improving your perception skills will also allow you to move less and remain quiet.
Communicate. If you hear other hunters coming, always announce yourself with a whistle or even a light holler. Do not use hand signals, or simply pop up; another hunter could fire on you by mistake, mistaking you for wild game. If you get lost, mark a notch in a log or tree with your hunting knife, or cut off a patch of clothing and leave a signal.