Just like flipping a switch, fall has given way to winter in the high country and hunters need to take precautions to stay safe, especially if and when they become lost.

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks spokeswoman Vivaca Crowser says being prepared is the first step in hunters safety.

"No matter what the day is like when you set out, the weather could change dramatically by the time you get where you're going, so make sure you have some key items in your pack, including a fire starter, have a signal, something you can use to signal for help if you need to," Crowser began. "Make sure you have layers of clothing with you and enough food to last a couple of days, just in case. Also, of course, let someone know where you're planning to go, so if you don't show up on time, searchers will know where to start looking."

Crowser addresses the frightening proposition that a hunter can get lost or separated from their hunting party.

"The first thing you want to do is just stop and regroup," she said. "This is a concept that we talk about in our hunter education classes in the survival section. Stop, take a few deep breaths and regain some clarity, then stay in that spot, unless you really do have a plan because sometimes people really do get into trouble by continuing to wander and getting even more lost. Create some shelter, make a fire and then you can stop and think... OK, what's next?"

Crowser said it's easy to fall and become injured in the backcountry, so always carry a first-aid kit, and know how to use it.

"If you don't have any first-aid training, think about getting some before you head out, so you'll know what to do in an injury situation," she said. "There are a lot of good short first-aid courses online, so try to get as much information as you can."

Crowser said preparation is the key to staying safe while hunting, and that includes never hunting alone.

The general rifle season continues until the Sunday after Thanksgiving.