George Leonard Herter Safe Gun Rules

(From the 1963 edition of "Professional Loading of Rifle, Pistol, & Shotgun Cartridges and Reloading Data for Professional & Amateur Target Shooters, Game Hunters & Guides" by George Leonard Herter and Jacques Pierre Herter


I have been with men when they shot other men while hunting.. It is not a pleasant experience but it is a very educational one. Most of the killings made while hunting are intentional but some few, of course, are really accidental. There is no easier way to murder a man and get by with it than while hunting. You can always say that it was an accident. Human people, being what they are, have not passed up this opportunity for legal killing. If your wife hunts with you be sure that you are on friendly terms with her. In Africa, for a while, wives shooting their husbands on safari became so frequent that many of the better guides refused to take out married couples.

  1. Never go out target shooting or hunting with any person that you suspect has even the slightest desire to see you dead. If you observe this most important of all gun rule your chances of being killed by a gun are very, very small.
  2. Never load a gun unless you are going to shoot something with it, or for protection.
  3. Never aim a gun at anything that you do not desire to hit or kill.
  4. Never point a gun at person to try to bluff him. If you have reason to point a gun at a person it is to hit him and be sure you have a legal right to do so.
  5. Regard all guns as loaded and capable of killing. When the French Army had no safeties on their rifles they had one-tenth as many accidental shootings as when they had safeties on their rifles.
  6. When a dayís hunting is over empty your gun of all ammunition and leave the bolt open. In the cas of double barreled and over and under guns break the guns exposing the empty chambers.
  7. If children are in your house, or cabin, keep all ammunition locked in a box or drawer. Put a small padlock behind the trigger of your gun, or guns, so that the trigger can not be pulled.
  8. If a drunken man has a gun in your presence force him to give it up to you by any method that works, including clubbing him.
  9. All guns in cars must be unloaded and cased. Hunting antelope and deer in Wyoming and Montana from the boxes of trucks, and hunting deer in Texas the same way is the poorest kind of sportsmanship, and a disgrace to the states that allow it and the men that do it. Even in Africa, where most anything goes, shooting from vehicles is prohibited in Kenya, Tanganyika, and Uganda.
  10. In climbing or crawling through or under a fence, keep your gun pointed out ahead of you. If someone is with you, you go through the fence first, then take your companionís and then let him get through the fence.
  11. Never shoot at movement in brush, grass, or woods. Be sure when you shoot you are shooting at the game you are hunting. Avoid shooting livestock and people.
  12. Any rifle will shoot a mile or more. See that your bullet path is free of livestock, humans, and buildings before you shoot.
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