This is not always possible. Not everyone hunts by spotting from a great distance then stalking. Sometimes the sigh picture only presents itself momentarily. Such a situation doesn't lend itself to an unloaded rifle.
The basic three steps only take a few seconds. Do you not have a moment to keep from blowing away some hiker?
Unless you're being charged by a grizzly, polar bear, elk, or moose, hunting isn't some kill or be killed situation. Lightening fast reflexes aren't needed to make the kill.
Quail, is different. Birdshotbut then spotting your quarry sort of presents itself to you, and no human (or any other animal) looks like foul taking flight. As for clearing your line of fire, you're always clearing your line of fire, or at least you should be.
Ergo, the rules still apply.
We hunted either taking turns on point where only the man on point would shoot with the guy in rear unchambered, or two abreast, where we limited our line of fire well right or left while watching both our own position as well as the other guys.
When you're not in a life or death situation, absolutely nothing takes priority over safety:
"According to information released by the International Hunter Education Association, the U.S. and Canada combined see around 1,000 hunting accidents, specifically involving shooting injuries, on an annual basis. Moreover, close to 10% of these hunting accidents end in death." (Source)
Just 1 death in a hunting accident is too many. 100 such accidents is just plain stupid.
One of the guys in middle school died in a hunting accident. It really, really sucked for the family. Remember that the next time you think you only have a "moment." Please take the time. Take more than a moment. Thanks.