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5 hunters injured in Iowa's shotgun deer season

December 6, 2010

5 hunters injured in Iowa's shotgun deer season

DES MOINES, Iowa - Hunters shooting at running deer is one of the biggest causes of injuries or deaths during the shotgun deer season, an official with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said Monday after a weekend in which five people were shot.

The five hunters were hit by shotgun blasts. None of the injuries was life-threatening, officials said.

"One of the things that's different about shotgun season, it's a group or a party of hunters driving deer toward other shooters. There's a potential for crossfire in those circumstances," agency spokesman Kevin Baskins said.

Baskins estimated there were 100,000 deer hunters in Iowa on Saturday and Sunday, the beginning of the year's first shotgun season in Iowa, which runs until Dec. 8. The second season is Dec. 11-19.

One hunter was shot in the hip Saturday near Barnes City in Mahaska County in southern Iowa. Gerald Bader, 71, of Federal Dam, Minn., was hunting with a party of 11 when another hunter took a shot at a running deer.

Four other deer hunters were injured Sunday. Three were shot by others in their hunting party. The fourth was injured when his shotgun discharged into his foot.

Baskins said for the last five years, Iowa has averaged seven to eight injuries during the entire deer hunting season. There were no hunting fatalities in 2004, and three since then.

This year, a hunter died on Nov. 28 in southern Iowa, during a special Thanksgiving weekend hunt, after he was hit by a wayward shot fired at running deer, officials said.

"When you're taking a shot that fast, you really don't have time to make sure what's behind you," Baskins said.

Another mistake hunters make, he said, is shooting at a deer on a ridge and the slug goes over the ridge and hits someone on the other side they couldn't see.

"Be careful about shooting uphill. It' s not a good practice because if you miss, that slug is airborne and something is going to have to stop it and you hope it's not another hunter," Baskins said.

He said Iowa has tracked hunting deaths and injuries since 1964. In 1965, 20 deer hunters were killed and 95 others were injured. In 1966, 19 people died in deer hunting accidents and 121 were injured. In 1983, Iowa required a hunter safety course for everyone born after Jan. 1, 1972. The course includes gun safety and techniques.

"Fundamentals like knowing where others in your party are. Understanding how to place your shot so that you're not having people in the background in case you miss," Baskins said.

Another key is for hunters to wear a blaze orange vest or coat.

"Deer are mostly color-blind. It won't affect the hunt but it will affect the ability of others to know where you're at," he said.

Baskins said hunters need to know where all hunters are at all times.

"Have a plan ahead of time, then hunt to that plan," he said. "We also recommend to wait until a deer stops to make a shot. Wear that orange and be highly visible and don't take those shots uphill," he said.

Baskins said more injuries occur during deer season. However, a pheasant hunter was injured Sunday in southern Iowa. The hunter was hit in the leg by a shotgun blast when two hunters fired at a pheasant, authorities said.

During deer season, most injuries occur during the shotgun seasons because hunters are hunting in groups, not individually, Baskins said.

In addition to shotgun deer season, Iowa has muzzleloader and bow-hunting seasons. In the southern two tiers of the state, hunters can use high-powered rifles during an antlerless hunting season in January. The last day of all deer hunting in Iowa is Jan. 30.

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