Ricky Aucoin has hunted public lands for more than 30 years, and he’s killed a number of really nice bucks. But he said it’s imperative to take some steps to ensure you safely return from each trip.

“No matter how successful you are, no matter how much fun you have hunting on public land, none of it is worth an accident or injury to yourself or your buddy,” Aucoin said. “Hunting public land can be an awesome experience, but you must be as prepared as possible to maximize your chances of success.”

Here are his tips for safe public-land hunting:

• The buddy system — Sure, it’s good to have a hunting buddy along in case of trouble, but you should never go into the woods without someone back home knowing how to find you.

“Have at least one buddy who knows exactly where you are hunting and has the ability to come get you if an emergency arises,” Aucoin said. “Cell phone service in many areas is non-existent or sketchy at best. Tell him or her your game plan and when you expect to return home.”

• Prepare for the worst — It might seem fatalistic, but if you plan for the worst you’ll be prepared is problems arise.

“If you get lost, your boat or vehicle breaks down, or you injure yourself, it is imperative that you have adequate supplies with you to make it until help arrives,” Aucoin explained. “This includes food, water, warm clothes, extra lights, batteries, a signal device, fire starter and more.”

• Open communications — Aucoin said two-way radios are godsends to hunters.

“I recommend leaving a two-way radio in your boat or vehicle, just in case you are stranded due for any other reason while still in the woods.

“If you have the second two-way radio with you, your rescuers can quickly find you in your exact location.”