How To Hike With A Shotgun? (Explained)

Hiking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, stay fit, and get away from the stresses of everyday life. Hiking with a shotgun can be an effective way to hunt for game or just add some excitement to your hike. 

However, there are some things that you need to take into consideration when hiking with a gun in order to ensure safety on your trip. 

These tips will help keep you safe and ensure that your shotgun remains functional throughout your hike:

Safe Wilderness Shotgun Carry- Civil Advantage Outdoor Series
Hiking with a shotgun requires careful planning and consideration.
It’s important to be aware of the legal regulations and permits regarding carrying firearms while hiking.
Carrying a loaded shotgun while hiking poses safety risks and requires proper storage and handling.
Alternatives to carrying a shotgun include using bear spray and employing other safety measures.
When encountering other hikers while carrying a shotgun, it’s essential to be respectful and considerate.
Practicing proper shotgun shooting stances can enhance accuracy and safety while hiking.

How To Hike With A Shotgun?

When you’re hiking with a shotgun, it’s important to follow all safety regulations. You’ll need a hunting license and valid hunting permit, as well as the right tag for the area you are in and a valid permit for the species of animal you’re hunting.

When hiking with a shotgun, it’s important to have the right gear. Carrying trekking poles can provide stability and support during your outdoor adventures. Learn more about how to carry trekking poles and make the most of your hiking experience.

Hiking With A Shotgun Isn’t Easy

While there is no doubt that a shotgun is an excellent weapon, it can be quite unwieldy to carry around on a hike. 

The weight of the firearm itself and its ammunition are going to make it harder for you to lug along with all your other gear. 

A shotgun also requires some special considerations when it comes to storage before you go hiking, as well as how you carry it around once you get out in the woods.

There are some environments where using a shotgun may not be appropriate or even possible—much less hunting small game with one. 

For example, thick brush or heavy undergrowth could cause problems if they get caught in the chamber so that rounds cannot fully cycle into place and fire properly (or at all).

Limited mobilityRestricted movement due to the weight of the shotgun
Safety concernsPotential risks associated with carrying a firearm
Legal considerationsAdhering to local laws and regulations
Interference with hiking activitiesDifficulty in performing certain hiking tasks
Increased attention and scrutinyDrawing attention from other hikers and authorities

#1. Keep Your Gun Broken Down

If you’re hiking with a shotgun, the first thing to do is break it down. This means taking all the pieces apart.

If you don’t usually carry a shotgun broken down, this might seem like an unnecessary step, but there are actually good reasons why you should take your gun apart before heading out on your hike:

It’ll be easier to carry around in your pack and easier to get back together again when you’re ready to shoot something—and not just because it’ll weigh less alone than with all its parts attached.

You won’t have to worry about forgetting any parts behind due to stress or distraction once things get exciting. 

If that happens, then someone else could find them and use them against you; they could even accidentally shoot themselves if they pick up one of those loose bullets lying around!

If something does happen (like getting caught in a sudden rainstorm), then having everything broken down will make it much easier for anyone nearby who wants help getting dried off

Planning a long hike with a shotgun? Knowing the estimated time it takes to complete the trail is essential. Discover the factors that affect hiking speed and get an idea of how long an 18-mile hike can take. Check out our article on how long does an 18-mile hike take for helpful insights.

#2. Protect The Metal Parts

When you’re in the woods, there are two metal parts on your gun that need to stay protected: the chamber and the barrel. They can be damaged if they are not covered properly.

A typical gun sock is made with a soft material like cotton or wool and will protect your shotgun from scratches and scrapes while being transported. 

You should also use a gun case when transporting it to keep it safe in case of any accidental drops or falls along the way.

#3. Carry The Gun In A Soft Case

A soft case is the best way to transport your shotgun while hiking. It will protect it from damage and allow you to carry the gun easily on your shoulder or back.

  • Make sure that the case is large enough to fit your shotgun inside, but not so large that it sticks out in front of you as you walk (this could cause problems when going through brush).
  • Padding should be present on both sides of the case so that it protects from being banged around during transport.
  • Straps should be present on both sides of the case so that you can carry it by hand or over your shoulder/back as needed.

#4. Ensure Your Shotgun Is Well-Maintained.

Keep your shotgun clean and lubricated: Even if you don’t shoot your shotgun often, the gun should be kept clean. A well-maintained gun will work much better than a dirty one in any situation. If you are not used to cleaning guns, check out some YouTube videos for step-by-step instructions.

Use a cleaning kit: Most shotguns come with their own cleaning kits that include brushes and rods for cleaning the barrel and action of the shotgun. 

When using these kits, pay special attention to the choke tubes as they need regular attention as well! The best thing about using these kits is that they ensure all parts will be cleaned effectively without damaging other parts during use!

Check your gun’s condition regularly: It’s important to periodically inspect your firearm so that any damage can be identified before it becomes critical or dangerous (especially if it means failing field tests). 

Most people recommend doing this after each time shooting but if time is limited then once every season would suffice depending on usage habits & conditions encountered (more frequent usage means more frequent checks may need).

Before heading out on a hike with a shotgun, make sure you have the essential items to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Explore our guide on the 6 hiking essentials and equip yourself with the necessary gear for your next outdoor adventure.

#5. Always Carry A Shotgun Cleaning Kit With You

Always carry a shotgun cleaning kit with you. It’s essential to keep your shotgun in top condition, and having the right tools can help you do just that. Here’s what should be in your cleaning kit:

  • Cleaning rod
  • Chamber brush
  • Shotgun patches (the big ones)
  • Lens cleaner for spotting scopes (if applicable)

#6. Don’t Carry Your Shotgun By The Barrel Or Muzzle

Don’t carry a shotgun by the barrel or muzzle. This can damage your shoulder and hand when you swing it to shoot, and it may have disastrous results if you drop the gun on its face. A good way to remember this is: “When not in use, keep your shotgun in a case.”

Never sling a loaded shotgun over one shoulder

It might seem like an easy way to carry your firearm, but it could be dangerous—particularly if you get into a situation where you need to act quickly and decisively with your firearm (i.e., self-defense). 

The problem with slinging across one shoulder is that if something happens where there’s no time for thought (e.g., an attack), there’s nothing stopping you from swinging around and firing immediately even though it would be much safer for everyone involved if instead of shooting right away after unslinging and pointing at someone, 

they simply kept their finger off the trigger until they’re ready deliberately take aim before firing at whatever/whomever they want deader than deadest thing imaginable!

Handling MethodDescription
Carry by the stockHold the shotgun securely by the stock or grip, ensuring a firm and controlled grip.
Use a slingUtilize a sling to carry the shotgun over your shoulder, keeping the barrel pointed down.
Avoid gripping the barrelNever hold or carry the shotgun by the barrel or muzzle to prevent accidents or damage.
Secure storageWhen not in use, store the shotgun in a secure case or gun rack to prevent mishandling.
Follow manufacturer guidelinesAdhere to the specific handling instructions provided by the shotgun manufacturer.

#7. Stay Away From Water Whenever Possible Unless You Are Specifically Hunting Water Fowl

While you’re hiking, stay away from water as much as possible unless you are specifically hunting water fowl. 

Water can damage the gun and make it unreliable when you need it most. If there is no way around the water, then make sure to dry off your shotgun with a towel before getting back to hiking or shooting.

#8. Pay Attention To Weather Conditions, Especially Humidity, Temperature And Precipitation Levels

One of the most important things you need to pay attention to is weather conditions. Humidity, temperature and precipitation levels can affect your gun in a variety of ways. 

For example, snow or rain may cause damage to your shotgun, such as rusting and pitting due to moisture absorption or corrosion at high temperatures. 

The same goes for cold weather—cold metal expands when it freezes, which can result in condensation forming in the barrel of your shotgun.

Curious about the time it takes to hike a specific distance? If you’re planning a 5 km hike with a shotgun, it’s helpful to know the average duration. Discover more about how long does it take to hike 5 km and plan your hiking trip accordingly.

#9. Clean Your Shotgun After Every Use.

The last thing you want to do is take your shotgun with you and end up ruining the trip because of an untidy gun. The best way to avoid this is cleaning it after every use.

Start by removing any shells from the chambers. Use a cleaning rod, brush, and patch to clear out as much debris as possible from the barrel and choke tube. 

Be sure not to force anything into either one or else you could damage them permanently!

Next, use cloths and sprays designed specifically for shotguns on any parts that are external (stock and receiver).

#10. Hand Oil Your Stock And Bluing For Protection Against The Elements On A Regular Basis

The gun is exposed to the elements, so it’s essential to keep it protected with an oil that will make sure there is no moisture build-up in your shotgun or any loose parts. 

You should also regularly check your shotgun after you hike, checking all of its functions and making sure nothing has fallen off or cracked due to repeated use.

#11. Check All Parts Of The Gun Before Each Time You Use It To Ensure No Potential Damage Has Occurred Since Last Use

Once you are on the trail, make sure to check all parts of the gun before each time you use it to ensure no potential damage has occurred since the last use. 

This includes checking the barrel and chamber for obstructions, bore for rust and corrosion, trigger mechanism for damage (including safety), stock and forearm for damage, action for damage (including ejectors), choke for damage (if present), and sights for damage.

Gun Parts to CheckDescription
BarrelExamine the barrel for any obstructions or signs of damage.
ActionCheck the action mechanism, ensuring it operates smoothly without any abnormalities.
Safety MechanismTest the safety mechanism to ensure it engages and disengages properly.
Stock and GripInspect the stock and grip for any cracks, loose screws, or other signs of damage.
Sight and OpticsVerify the sight alignment and condition of any optics attached to the gun.
Magazine or CylinderCheck the magazine or cylinder for proper functioning and ensure it is free from obstructions or debris.
Trigger and Trigger GuardExamine the trigger and trigger guard for any issues or damage.

#12. Store Your Shotgun In A Appropriate Safe When Not In Use

When you are hiking, it is always best to keep your gun with you at all times. However, there are times when that may not be possible and you need to store your shotgun for safety reasons. 

For example, if you have children in the house or plan on storing a gun for long periods of time outside of an emergency situation, then it’s important that you know how to store your firearm safely before leaving it unattended. 

There are many different ways to do this but we will focus on two different approaches: one that uses a traditional lockbox and another method using biometric security technology.

Embarking on a 7-mile hike with a shotgun requires careful preparation. Knowing the essential items to bring along can enhance your hiking experience. Explore our guide on what to bring on a 7-mile hike and ensure you’re well-equipped for your outdoor adventure.

Following These Tips Will Help Keep Your Shotgun Safe And Functional While Hiking

  • Clean your gun after each use
  • Always carry a cleaning kit with you
  • Check all parts of your gun before each use to ensure no damage has occurred
  • Store your gun in a safe when not in use


Remember these tips are meant to help you have a safe and enjoyable time while hiking with your shotgun. 

It is important that you follow all of these tips, but if something happens and you don’t follow them exactly then it isn’t the end of the world. 

Just make sure that you follow them as much as possible so that nothing bad happens!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources for further reading on hiking with a shotgun:

  • Don’t Hike With Guns: This article from Outside Online explores the reasons why carrying guns while hiking may not be advisable and delves into the potential risks and legal considerations.
  • Whether to Take Your Gun Hiking Is a Complex Question, ATC Says: The Appalachian Mountain Club’s resource provides insights into the complexities surrounding the decision to carry guns while hiking, discussing various perspectives and considerations.
  • Shotgun Shooting Stance: If you’re interested in learning more about shotgun shooting stances, this guide from Hunter Ed provides valuable information and tips for improving your shotgun shooting technique.


Here are some frequently asked questions about hiking with a shotgun:

Can I legally carry a shotgun while hiking?

The legality of carrying a shotgun while hiking depends on various factors, including local laws and regulations. It’s crucial to research and understand the specific rules and permits required in the area you plan to hike.

Are there any safety concerns associated with hiking with a loaded shotgun?

Hiking with a loaded shotgun poses inherent risks and safety concerns. It’s important to prioritize firearm safety, ensuring proper storage, handling, and awareness of your surroundings at all times.

What are the alternatives to carrying a shotgun while hiking?

Instead of carrying a shotgun, some hikers opt for alternative methods of self-defense or rely on other safety measures such as bear spray, hiking in groups, or making noise to deter potential wildlife encounters.

How should I handle encounters with other hikers while carrying a shotgun?

When encountering other hikers while carrying a shotgun, it’s essential to be respectful, considerate, and aware of their comfort levels. Keep your firearm secured and maintain open communication to ensure a safe and pleasant experience for everyone.

Are there specific guidelines for proper shotgun shooting stances while hiking?

Proper shotgun shooting stances can enhance accuracy and safety. It’s recommended to practice and familiarize yourself with various shooting stances suited for different terrains and shooting scenarios to ensure a stable and controlled shooting position.