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Readiness Rating Scorecard

Y / N         1. Are you familiar with the local area hunting rules, licensing requirements and bag limits (e.g., if you intend to hunt in Texas, you must attend a hunter safety course before you can obtain a license)?



Y / N         2. Do you know what firearms are allowed for the type of animals/birds you will be hunting?



Y / N         3. If you own your own rifles/shotguns, do you properly maintain them?  



Y / N         4. If you load your own ammunition, do you take precautions to ensure the loading area is safe?



Y / N         5. If hunting waterfowl using a boat, is your boat in good condition?  



Y / N         6. If hunting deer and using a tree-stand, is it in good condition?



Y / N         7. If you plan on hunting outside the local area, will you use a guide? 



Y / N         8. If not, are you familiar with the hunting area and local rules?



Y / N         9. If you will be using an aircraft to get into remote hunting areas, are you aware that several mishaps have occurred when hunters overload their aircraft with big game? 



Y / N         10. Will you be wearing brightly colored clothing?  


Readiness Rating

Good to Go  (10 "Yes" Answers)
Progress Underway  (6-9 "Yes" Answers)

Seriously Unprepared  (1-5 "Yes" Answers)


Adapted from Flight Commander’s High-Risk Briefing Checklist for Hunting 

Top Hazards and How To Mitigate Them

1. Climbing a tree-stand or elevated hunting stand with a loaded firearm

Mitigate:  Always use a haul line (strong rope or cord) to raise your unloaded firearm once you are stable on your stand. Unload and lower your firearm to the ground before descending. Never climb with anything in your hands or on your back.


2. Climbing over a fence with a loaded firearm

Mitigate: Always unload your firearm before going over a fence. Cap your muzzle so that nothing enters the barrel. Lay your unloaded firearm flat on the ground on the other side of the fence before crossing it. Once on the other side, reload and check your safety.


3. Hunting without a blaze orange or other highly visible vest/jacket/cap

Mitigate:  Understand that wearing blaze orange will not make you more visible to deer, because deer are color-blind to orange. Keep in mind that hunters who wear blaze orange are seven times less likely to get shot.


4. Duck hunting from a boat and firing while standing

Mitigate: Never shoot from a standing position and always wear a well-fitted personal flotation device while hunting from a boat.


5. Cleaning a loaded firearm

Mitigate: Unload your gun in a separate room from the room where you’ll be cleaning it. Check and check again that your gun is unloaded before you begin to clean it.

6. Hunting alone

Mitigate: Whenever possible, hunt with at least one other person who can help in case of an accident, especially when travelling on unfamiliar terrain. If you choose to hunt solo, tell a friend or loved one when and where you will be hunting, leaving that person with a detailed itinerary and a copy of your map. Consider renting a satellite phone and investing in a personal locator beacon.

7. Inadequate clothing for weather condition

Mitigate: Cold, wet conditions put you at risk for hypothermia, but it can also occur at temperatures as warm as 50℉! Be wary of wet clothing, which draws heat out of your body more quickly than cold air alone. Dress in layers, avoiding moisture-retaining cotton, and bring rain gear. Wear insulated hunting boots and a warm, windproof and waterproof jacket with an insulated, zippered hood. You may also want to invest in a moisture-wicking, breathable and lightweight balaclava or ski mask.

8. Getting lost

Mitigate: Always carry a GPS unit, which you can use to set a waypoint to your truck or camp. Also, pack a compass, maps and extra batteries. Since there is always a chance that your GPS will fail you, make mental notes of landmarks as you go, and regularly check your location on your map.

9. “Friendly” fire

Mitigate: Make sure that your shot path (in front of, behind and beside your target) is clear, as well as the shot path of others in your group. Call out “don’t shoot” if a shot should not happen. Know the safe zone of fire—a span of about 45 degrees (10 – 2 on a clock face) directly in front of each hunter. Hunters in a group should space themselves 25 to 40 yards apart, always in sight of one another. Have an “exit strategy” or plan for which tree to duck behind or ditch to dive into if reckless shooting breaks out. Wear your blaze orange so as not to be mistaken for game