PIERRE, S.D. - Last year was likely one of the best year’s for
hunting pheasants. It was also one of the most dangerous.
“The recent hunting accident involving Vice President Cheney
highlights the level of awareness everyone must have for the potential
of a hunting accident while in the field,” said Game, Fish and Parks
HuntSAFE Coordinator Curt Robertson.
“2005 saw a significant increase in hunting incidents in the state
of South Dakota,” Robertson said. “In fact, there were more injuries
while pheasant hunting during the first three weeks of the 2005
pheasant season than were total hunting-related incidents reported for
all of the 2004 hunting seasons.”
The highest number of hunting-related accidents for a year, since
South Dakota began keeping records in 1988, is 40, which includes all
hunting-related incidents. As of Oct. 30, 2005, 32 incidents were
reported for pheasant hunting alone, and by the end of the 2005
seasons, 54 accidents had been reported. This is an increase of 22 (69
percent) from 2004, and 14 (35 percent) more than the previous high
mark of 1988.
“While none of the injuries were fatal, the increase in injuries is
a cause for concern,” Robertson said. “We need to take every step
necessary to make sure that 2005 is an anomaly and not the start of a
long term trend.
Game, Fish, and Parks compiles hunter safety statistics every year
using the definitions outlined by the International Hunters Education
Association (IHEA), the preeminent hunter safety organization
worldwide. Only those reported injuries that occur during hunting,
whether a gun is discharged or not, are recorded to ensure accuracy.
A majority of the reported incidents happened during the latest
pheasant season. “There were two basic reasons why these incidents
occurred,” Robertson stated. “The number one reason was when hunters
were swinging on birds, while at the same time ‘covering’ a person who
was behind or near their target.”
The second major reason for incidents this year was that the victim
was completely out of the line of sight of the shooter. “There were
several incidents where one person in the party had bent over to
retrieve a downed bird and was out of sight of the shooter,” Robertson
noted. “The reports would indicate similar circumstances contributed
to Vice President Cheney’s hunting incident.Being aware of the
location of all party members at all times is essential to a safe
Remembering the basics of safe hunting can help alleviate the
problems of safety when you are out in the field. The four basics are:
· Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
· Be sure of your target and what is beyond.
· Keep the action open and unloaded when not actively hunting.
· Keep your finger outside and alongside the trigger guard until
ready to shoot.
“As hunters,” Robertson states, “we must always be mindful of our
situation and surroundings. If there is any doubt to the safety of a
shot, don’t take it. Only take the no risk shot. Safe Hunting is no