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Hunting safety

All first-time hunters born on or after Jan. 1, 1960 are required to take and pass a hunter safety course. You will not be able to purchase a base license (other than an apprentice license) unless you can prove successful completion of a hunter safety course.
Hunter education safety certificate

General safety reminders

  • Tell someone the specific time, duration and location that you will be hunting and schedule check-in times. Update your contact if plans change. Medical incidents are unplanned – staying in contact with someone who knows your plan could save your life.
  • Hunt with a partner and know your zone-of-fire.
  • Carry a two-way communication device that receives service in remote areas – such as a phone or two-way radio. Ensure the device is always within reach in case you need to call for help.
  • Hunting on or near water? Wear your life jacket.
Hunter safety - firearms video


  • Keep the safety of your firearm on until you are prepared to take your shot.
  • Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
  • Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times.
  • Be aware of your surroundings – know your target and what is beyond it.
  • Put your finger on the trigger only when you are ready to shoot.
  • Don’t use your scope as binoculars – only point your firearm at something you intend to shoot.
  • Unload the firearm when crossing obstacles and/or getting in or out of a tree stand.
  • Check the barrel and ammunition to ensure they are clear from any obstructions and use the proper ammunition.
  • Do not drink alcohol or use any mind-altering substances when hunting – including marijuana and/or medications.
  • Firearms in the home should be unloaded and securely stored separate from the ammunition.
  • When transporting firearms in vehicles make sure that they are unloaded and in a case.
Tree stand safety Video

Tree stand safety

  • Using your hands and feet, maintain three points of contact at all times when ascending or descending into a tree stand.
  • Always use a full body harness that is attached to a secure fall line positioned above your head.
  • When lifting your firearm or crossbow into a tree stand, use a secure pull system (such as a rope) and make sure it is unloaded and the safety is on. Do not attach anything to the trigger guard.
  • Refrain from using screw-in steps on tree stands that are located on public land.
  • Ensure your tree stand is securely attached and stable prior to using it.

Additional tree stand resources:

Hunter orange and trespassing Video

Hunter orange and trespassing

  • Obey no trespassing signs - they are there for a reason.
  • If your game goes onto property marked as "no trespassing," you must have the landowner's permission to retrieve your game.
  • The DNR recommends that you wear as much hunter orange as possible to increase your visibility - orange and other colors do not impact deer's behavior.
  • Hunter orange should be worn as the outermost layer of clothing and must be visible from all directions. Options include:
    • Cap
    • Hat
    • Vest
    • Jacket
    • Rain coat
  • Hunter orange garments (including camouflage) must be at least 50 percent hunter orange to meet the legal requirements.
  • If you are recreating outdoors near hunting areas, wear hunter orange so you can be seen by hunters.