U.S. Census data reports that there are 15.2 million hunters in the U.S. and 625,142 registered hunters in Georgia. Physicians at Atrium Health Navicent encourage hunters of all ages to observe proper safety precautions to minimize the risk of common hunting injuries this hunting season.
“This fall many families in Georgia are beginning preparations for hunting season, some including children and other first-time hunters. Safety precautions are vital to hunting and should be a part of preparations for each season, no matter how many times you’ve hunted,” said Dr. John Wood, medical director for the Emergency Department at Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center. “All too frequently, our emergency departements treat hunting-related injuries that could easily be prevented by taking simple measures to keep hunters and those around them safe.”
Physicians at Atrium Health Navicent's emergency departments typically treat injuries during hunting season that fall into one of four categories: all-terrain vehicle (ATV) accidents, accidents with weapons, falls from tree stands and encounters with snakes.
ATVs are quick, heavy and usually travel on unpredictable paths. Minimize the risk of accidents and injuries by following these tips:
Wear proper safety gear, including a helmet, while operating an ATV.
Choose an ATV that is appropriate for the rider's size and age. Adult ATVs are often too heavy and too fast for an adolescent to safely manage.
Pay attention to your surroundings.
Avoid paved roads. ATVs are not intended for streets, and collisions with cars are possible.
Never operate an ATV while consuming alcohol.
Whether hunting with a bow or a firearm, it is important to remember the following safety tips:
Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
Do not place your finger on the trigger unless you are preparing to take a shot.
Double-check to ensure the bullet's caliber is appropriate for the firearm.
Archers should identify a safe background before releasing an arrow. No skyline shots.
Archers should fully secure arrows before moving, even if they are only repositioning for a better shot.
Wear orange while in the woods to help other hunters identify you.
Falls from tree stands are a leading cause of injury among hunters. If using a tree stand, bear the following in mind:
Inspect the ladder steps and tree attachments prior to ascending the stand.
If the stand is attached to a tree, inspect the tree prior to ascending the stand. The tree should be alive and healthy, without any visible rot or damage.
Use a safety harness. Hook into the harness prior to leaving the ground and leave it attached until you return safely to the ground.
Use a haul line to pull your unloaded weapon into the stand. Do not carry a firearm or bow into the stand or attach it to your body.
Tell a friend or loved one where you will be, and when to expect you home. If an accident occurs, someone should know where to find you. Consider carrying a two-way radio or loud whistle to call for help.
More than 40 snake species are found in Georgia, and of those, six types are venomous. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 7,000-8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the U.S. each year. Hunters who spend time outdoors will likely run into a snake from time to time. Follow these tips to avoid potentially life-threatening encounters:
Wear bite-proof boots and chaps.
Be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times.
Do not place your hands or feet into any area where you cannot see.
If you encounter a snake, back away slowly. Do not approach or provoke the snake.
If you or someone in your group is bitten, seek emergency medical treatment immediately.
Adults should always supervise younger hunters.
Tips for Non-Hunters
Typically, outdoor enthusiasts may be sharing the woods with hunters during the fall. Here are some tips for non-hunters to stay safe during hunting season:
Learn where and when hunting is taking place. Plan your recreation activities based on this information. Stay out of designated hunt areas.
Enjoying recreational activities only on designated trails will reduce the likelihood of your entering designated hunt areas.
Wear bright clothing (like blaze orange) to make yourself easily visible. Avoid earth-toned and animal-colored clothing.
Don’t forget to protect your dog, too. Tie a brightly-colored bandana around your dog’s neck or purchase a blaze orange dog vest. Follow appropriate leash requirements.
Alert hunters to your presence by whistling, singing or carrying on a conversation as you walk. If you hear shooting, raise your voice and let hunters know you are in the vicinity.
Once a hunter is aware of your presence, don’t make unnecessary noise that disturbs wildlife.
When an Emergency Happens
If an accident or injury occurs, seek appropriate medical treatment. For emergency situations, call 911 or seek care at the nearest emergency department. Atrium Health Navicent offers emergency care at the following locations:
Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center (777 Hemlock St., Macon)
Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children's Hospital (888 Pine St., Macon)
Atrium Health Navicent Peach (1960 Hwy 247 Connector, Byron)
Atrium Health Navicent Baldwin (821 North Cobb St., Milledgeville)
Putnam General Hospital, Atrium Health Navicent Partner (101 Greensboro Road, Eatonton)
For non-life-threatening injuries, visit your nearest urgent care provider. Atrium Health Navicent provides urgent care at three Macon locations:
Atrium Health Navicent Urgent Care North (3400 Riverside Drive, Macon)
Atrium Health Navicent Urgent Care East (1339 Gray Highway, Macon)
Atrium Health Navicent Urgent Care Northwest (5925 Zebulon Road, Macon)