Avoid the leading causes of hunting accidents PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 08 October 2007 23:34

From the Misouri Department of Conservation (original article w/pic).

Three causes account for more than half of Missouri’s firearms-related hunting accidents.

JEFFERSON CITY-Missouri hunters could cut their chances of being hurt in hunting accidents by more than half if they just avoided the three leading causes, according to statistics compiled by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The agency’s 2006 Annual Hunting Incident Summary shows that nine out of 30 hunting accidents reported last year were the result of one hunter mistaking another for game. Seven of those involved turkey hunters. Of the remaining two victim-mistaken-for-game accidents, one involved deer hunting and one squirrel hunting.

Last year’s second-leading cause of firearms-related hunting accidents was a tie. Four accidents were attributed to a hunter accidentally shooting another while swinging on game. Another four resulted when a hunter rested a hand or arm on the muzzle of a firearm or rested the muzzle of a gun on his foot.

Swinging-on-game accidents most often involve dove, quail or other bird hunting, but can occur when hunting deer, rabbits, turkeys or any other game animal. Wearing hunter orange and keeping close track of the location of hunting partners helps reduce the chances of such accidents.

Six of last year’s accidents involved avoidable hunter errors in firearms handling. These included the accidental discharge of a pistol, carrying a cocked pistol, accidentally catching triggers on objects, bumping the external hammer of a deer rifle and carrying a loaded rifle in a vehicle.

Ten percent of last year’s firearms-related hunting injuries were self-inflicted, and 30 percent were inflicted by family members or friends.

These statistics do not include falls from tree stands. Such falls might be the leading cause of injuries and deaths among hunters. Virtually all could be prevented by a few precautions.

One important tree stand safety measure is wearing a full-body safety harness that meets standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Belts and uncertified harnesses can cause injury by distributing the force of a fall unevenly on the body.

For full protection, tree-stand hunters must combine safety harnesses with straps that will prevent falls while climbing into and out of tree stands, not just when they are in the stands. This can be a climbing strap, which the hunter moves up and down the tree as he goes, or a retractable strap that automatically locks when a fall occurs.

Other important tree-stand safety measures include keeping guns unloaded until seated in the stand and using a haul rope to bring firearms, backpacks and other items up to the stand. This keeps hands free for climbing.

In spite of last year’s 24 recorded hunting injuries and four deaths, the Conservation Department notes hunting has a better safety record than many other sports, based on the number of injuries per capita. Missouri has more than 487,000 hunting permit holders who spend millions of hours in the field annually. A strong emphasis on safety in mandatory hunter education classes has reduced the frequency of hunting accidents to a fraction of what it was 20 years ago.

More information about hunting safety is available from:

--The International Hunter Education Association, 2727 W. 92nd Ave., Ste 103, Federal Heights, CO 80260, 303/430-7233, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ,
http://www.ihea.com/. --The Treestand Manufacturer’s Association, P.O. Box 15214, Hattiesburg, MS 39404, 601/584-7983, www.tmastands.com/.

-Jim Low-