Hunting Accidents Generally Avoidable
By GARY GARTH
Statistically, deer hunting is a safe sport, but a handful
of accidents are reported each year. According to the Kentucky Department of
Fish and Wildlife Resources, 13 hunting-related accidents were reported last
year, and seven of them involved deer hunters.
A 40-year-old man fell from a tree stand, resulting in a
serious injury. The victim was not wearing a safety harness.
A 70-year-old woman was lowering her .270-caliber rifle
from her tree stand when the string broke. The rifle discharged upon hitting
the ground, striking her in the knee.
A 32-year-old man was injured in a fall from a tree stand.
A 68-year-old hunter failed to properly identify his
target and fired, wounding another 68-year-old hunter who was not wearing
state-required blaze-orange clothing.
A hunter with his bow at full draw tripped or stumbled and
shot his partner, who was standing beside him. Both hunters were younger
than 18. The injury was not fatal.
A 65-year-old man died in a fall when his hand-built stand
broke from the tree to which it was attached.
Another hunter was killed when his muzzleloader discharged
while he was crossing a fence.
Mac Lang, hunter training supervisor for the Fish and
Wildlife Department, says his office typically receives 12 or 13 accident
reports annually, including one or two fatalities.
"A lot of accidents go unreported because people are
embarrassed by them," he said.
Lang has received nine accident reports this year,
including three that were deer-related and weren't fatal. One involved a
fall from a tree stand. One hunter dropped an in-line muzzleloader, which
discharged and struck the man.
Another hunter discharged his muzzleloader into the woods
at the conclusion of his hunt. The bullet stuck his hunting partner, who was
in his tree stand concealed by timber and foliage more than 150 yards away.
Going into the modern firearm season, Lang encourages
hunters to follow the three basic safety rules.
Don't load your firearm until you are in the field.
Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times.
Don't touch the trigger until you are ready to fire, and
remove your finger from the trigger immediately after the shot.
"Those are the big three," Lang said. "If people would do
those three things, virtually all accidents would disappear.
Kentucky's hunter-orange clothing law saves lives and
prevents injuries. It requires that all hunters pursuing any species and
anyone accompanying a hunter during the modern gun, muzzleloader or a youth
firearm deer seasons must wear solid, unbroken hunter-orange color visible
from all sides on the head, back and chest.
Copyright 2003 The Courier-Journal.