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Many people carry a firearm for self-defense each day while going about their daily lives in the city. Then when fall hunting season comes around, they pick up their rifles and shotguns and head out into the wilderness while leaving their everyday carry (EDC) piece at home.

Some people do this because certain laws prohibit such activity but others seem to do it out of ignorance. They forget the primary reason to carry a weapon and that is self-defense.

Protecting yourself while Hunting

Whether you are working in the city or out hunting in the woods, self-defense should not be overlooked in either situation.

People often assume that they will be able to defend themselves adequately with whatever means they have at their disposal. Hunting is not an exception and hunters often limit their self-defense options to a simple knife and whatever form of weapon is in season. This is of course better than nothing and might work in most scenarios but it can leave you basically helpless in the one that actually counts.

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What should you do during archery season, muzzleloader season, dove season or when you need to take a close range 10 yard shot with that 3x-9x scope on top of your bolt action rifle?

Unless you think that you would be able to defend yourself from multiple attackers with a compound bow, muzzleloader or 2-3 rounds of bird shot; carrying a backup handgun for self-defense while hunting is a smart option.
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Hunting is considered by the courts to be a highly regulated activity and thus subjected to a bombardment of regulations. At times these regulations can be a burden and seem unnecessary. There are however, some laws in effect that support the Second Amendment for hunters while out in the field but they vary state by state:

Back in 2012, Governor Jan Brewer signed House Bill 2457 into law making it so hunters could lawfully carry an additional weapon for self-defense while hunting as long as that weapon is not used for taking wildlife. Arizona is a border state frequently used by cartels to smuggle in drugs and people because of its vast uninhabited areas.

It just so happens that the remote areas used by cartels also make for some prime hunting territory. After seeing what happened to Border Patrol Officer Brian Terry back in 2010, I think this was a much needed measure that will increase hunter and public safety alike.

It has been legal for Oregon hunters to carry any type of firearm they wish to in the field for self-defense since 1995 and the passage of ORS116.170, along with an Oregon Attorney General’s review of the statue in 2003. These actions essentially stripped Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) from having the ability to restrict a hunter’s self-defense ability. Before this statue, ODFW was legally allowed to prohibit certain weapons hunters could carry in the field with them for self-defense under the guise of game management.

In the Evergreen State of Washington, outdoorsmen enjoy an exemption to the CCW law under RCW9.41.060(8) that states; “Any person engaging in a lawful outdoor recreational activity such as hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, or horseback riding, only if, considering all of the attendant circumstances, including but not limited to whether the person has a valid hunting or fishing license, it is reasonable to conclude that the person is participating in lawful outdoor activities or is traveling to or from a legitimate outdoor recreation area.”

Hunters in Washington are also legally permitted to carry a handgun for personal protection during the archery and muzzle-loading seasons.

Even in anti-gun California, hunters have some Second Amendment Rights while in the field. Under PC25640, formerly known as PC12027(G), it reads; “Section 25400 [the CCW prohibition statue] does not apply to, or affect, licensed hunters or fishermen carrying pistols, revolvers, or other firearms capable of being concealed upon the person while engaged in hunting or fishing, or transporting those firearms unloaded when going to or returning from the hunting or fishing expedition.”

It should be noted however, that it is still against the law to carry a handgun during archery-only season under FGC4370.
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We as hunters should not forget the first law of nature, which is self-preservation. Being away from civilization doesn’t mean one should be limited on self-defense options. If anything, hunters should be prepared to take on more personal responsibility.

With the scouting season in full effect and fall hunting season just around the corner, all hunters should check their local, state and game regulations for more information on whether they can legally carry a backup handgun for self-defense while in the field.

Make sure you grab a holster for your spare handgun, carrying a handgun for self defense only works if you actually have access to it, an IWB or OWB holster is a necessity.

We have organized our holsters by gun. Take a look at our Search by Gun page.

About The Author

Travis Box is currently a college student studying American history with a concentration on the Constitution, Revolutionary War, politics and legislation. As an active hunter for 5 years and a recreational marksman for over a decade, his writing brings with it years of real world experience from both the field and the range.