In Wisconsin, fall is the season for hunting. And the two go together like Cheeseheads and the Green Bay Packers. Take care and stay safe this hunting season.

Hunting is not for everyone. But those who take part are dedicated to the sport. It’s tradition. Hunters plan and prepare for months before the season opener. Scouting out the best spots. Constructing hunting blinds. And airing out clothing to remove all human scent.

Surprisingly, even though the sport of hunting uses equipment designed for deadly force, it’s relatively safe when it’s done right.

Thanks to today’s hunter safety courses, people are 130 times more likely to be injured while playing football than bow hunting.

Whether you or your loved one hunt with a bow or bullets, here are a few preventative tips to keep you moving during hunting season and all year long.

Prepare for a great hunting experience

1) Practice aggressive tick and mosquito protection.

Hunters are not the only ones on the prowl for a good meal. Ticks are abundant. And they carry a host of diseases that can slow you down for months after the hunt is over. Use a high-powered tick repellant to keep them at bay. Treat clothing, boots, and jackets with an insecticide. Permethrin is the gold standard to prevent deer ticks from crawling into your jacket and pants. If you have pets, the label offers special considerations. 

Not all hunting takes place in cold weather. If you hunt when mosquitos are hatching, a full-strength insect repellent will help keep pesky mosquitoes and West Nile Virus away.

2) Dress for warmth.

Warm muscles move better than cold muscles. Consider packing foot, hand, and body warmers to stay warm and toasty while sitting in deer stands.

Dress in layers to keep sweating to a minimum. There’s nothing worse than sweating and then sitting. It will chill you to the bone and makes you more susceptible to hypothermia.

3) Condition your body for the sport.

Whether you use a bow or use a rifle, you will enjoy your time in the stand or in the blind if your muscles are as ready for action as your hunting equipment.

Get your body in shape for hunting. Add conditioning exercises to your routine that strengthen and support your shoulders, hands, and wrists. Bowhunting, especially, stresses and strains the tendons, ligaments, and muscles in the arms and upper body as you pull back the string and release the arrow.

Without proper conditioning, hunters are susceptible to shoulder injuries, including tendonitis, bursitis, and rotator cuff tearsForearm injuries affecting the tendons that connect the forearm (radius and ulna) to the elbow are also common.

Overuse injuries limit your movement and affect your aim.

If you hunting with a party during gun deer season, up your walking game. A few weeks before the season, start walking longer distances each day, so your body is ready for long treks through the woods.

4) Check your tree stand and safety harness. 

According to a 2015 article by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, a lifelong gun and bow hunter in Wisconsin has a 1 in 20 chance of sustaining an injury that requires medical attention due to falling out of a tree stand.

If you use a stand, make sure it is in perfect working order, and know how to use it before you head for the woods.

Injuries from malfunctioning tree stands are a frequent cause of severe orthopedic injuries during hunting season.

5) Share your location.

Share your hunting plan and agree to check in at a prearranged time. Where will you be? How long do you expect to be in the woods? What is the best way to find you?

Invite several people to track your location using apps on your smartphone. Test-drive this application to make sure it works when your phone is in silent mode.

These simple safety precautions can be lifesavers.

Prepare for a great hunting experience

6) Sit or stand with proper posture. 

Remember to stand up and move around occasionally to prevent back pain.

7) Take your shot with proper form. 

One movement with bad form, a shot of adrenaline, and the added weight of a bow or gun, is a perfect recipe for a back injury, especially if your core muscles don’t provide strong support to your spine.

8) Wear gloves while dressing out your game, especially deer. 

Animals can carry disease. Protect yourself. You may also want to test your deer for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

9) Always practice hunter safety.

  • Wear blaze orange.
  • Use the safety feature on your weapon.
  • Never point your weapon in the direction of a person.
  • Never hunt while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Never hunt after dusk, and . . .

Always, always, always be sure of your target; if there is any doubt, don’t shoot.

Bone & Joint wishes you a safe, enjoyable, and fruitful season.