ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Many hunting seasons are underway, and while it’s a way to experience the outdoors, the Department of Environmental Conservation is reminding the public that safety will always come first.

If you’re new to hunting and just starting out, the DEC requires every hunter to take a hunter education course before receiving a license. DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, on average, 20,000 people go through the course, but this year, roughly 50,000 people signed up for the online course, which is usually held in person.

They said there are four main rules to hunting safety:

  1. Treat every firearm as if it’s loaded
  2. Never point it at somebody else and make sure it’s in a safe direction
  3. Be sure of the target and what’s beyond it
  4. Keep your fingers off the trigger and outside the guard until you’re ready to shoot

“This is no laughing matter,” Seggos said. “We are at a very good point with our hunting program here in New York, but every year, unfortunately, we see some incidents that are entirely avoidable. We really want safety to be the number one thought on everyone’s minds when they go out in the woods this year. It’s our top priority.”

Seggos said wearing orange can make a difference, too, because it can make you seven times less likely to be involved in an incident.