Safety Precautions for Public Hunting Areas

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Remote areas can be risky. Here’s how to avoid trouble this season

Always be mindful of your surroundings, but especially on public hunting areas. Image by Bill Konway

I have never been an overly cautious hunter and certainly not a paranoid one. But these days, I’m more aware of my surroundings than ever. Crime and drugs are out of control. Runaway inflation and $5 gas have scumbags coming out of the woodwork and looking for opportunities to rip people off. You could be a target when hunting a remote public area.

Here are some thoughts on staying safe and protecting your property.

Park in a Visible Spot

Like many of you, I’m an out-of-sight, out-of-mind hunter. I find secluded access on public ground, hide the truck and sneak into a piece of woods I hope to have to myself. Not this season — at least not the parking part.

Law-enforcement agencies across the nation report that fuel theft is rampant.

“Thieves are walking right up to vehicles with siphoning hoses and pumps,” an Alabama deputy sheriff said in a TV report. “Or drilling holes in tanks and stealing the gas.”

A truck or SUV tucked in a lonely spot in the woods is a juicy target for a gas thief. This year, I’m changing it up and parking up front in an access area when I scout or hunt a public block, or pulling off and parking at a wide spot on a main road where that’s safe and allowed. Do likewise. Position your truck or SUV so the side with the fuel door faces out to the center of a parking area or toward a main road. Parking visibly is not a surefire way to stop a thief, but it’s a deterrent. A scumbag might think twice about stealing your gas if he’s leery of being spotted by a passing car. It also makes sense to install a locking gas cap if you haven’t already.

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Clean Out Your Vehicle

If you’re like me, your truck or SUV is a rolling man cave during deer season. Binoculars, trail cameras and cards, broadheads and bullets stacked on the dash. An arrow tube, crossbow, cased rifle, piles of Realtree camo in the back seat. But not this season. There’s no need to tempt a scuzzball into an easy smash and grab.

It’ll be a challenge and inconvenience, but keep a clean, lean truck. Take only the gear you need for a day of hunting, and leave nothing behind inside the vehicle. Obviously, no tree stands or high-dollar coolers in the bed of your truck. If a dirtball walks by while you’re out and peeks into an empty vehicle, he’ll probably just pass by.

Two Essentials

When you leave your truck for the day, carry a fully charged cell phone for obvious reasons (calling for help if you need it, and texting your buddies when the deer aren’t moving). Leave the name of the public area and the exact location where you’re hunting with a spouse or friend in case you’re in a dead cell zone.

I’ve also started carrying a small Fenix self-defense LED flashlight (many brands are available). Use low-illumination mode when sneaking to your stand in the morning. Switch to a brighter setting to make your presence known when returning to a parking area after dark. In the unlikely event you encounter a troublemaker lurking around your truck and feel threatened, hit the intense strobe, which will disorient any troublemaker and make him flee. A strobe is something you never hope to use but are glad you have.

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Get your deer hunting gear at the Realtree store.