The typical hunting accident casualty is a male between 10 and 29 years of age who is hunting small game with a shotgun during the first week of the season. He resides in a rural area and has had one to five years of hunting experience.
The major causes of hunting accidents are the victim was out of sight of the shooter, the shooter swinging on game hits victim, the victim mistaken for game, the shooter stumbled and fell, and the shooter’s trigger got caught on an object.
It’s estimated that one out of five American males over age 16 participates in hunting. Shotguns are involved in far more hunting accidents than rifles, probably because there is more small game hunting with shotguns. Hunter orange generally is credited with reducing deer hunting mishaps. Waterfowl hunting is the safest of the main hunting categories.
A large number of hunting accidents and injuries are self-inflicted, the chief reasons are stumbling and falling and catching the trigger on brush or other objects.
Here are 10 basic tips on how to avoid hunting accidents:
1. Don’t rely on your gun’s safety. Treat every gun as if it were loaded and ready to fire.
2. Never load or carry a loaded gun until you are ready to shoot. Break the gun or open the action to make sure it is not loaded.
3. Watch your muzzle and keep it pointed in a safe direction.
4. Stay aware of the positions of others and never shoot in their direction.
5. Never move into another hunter’s line of fire.
6. Make absolutely sure of your target and what is beyond it, especially in low-light periods of dawn or dusk.
7. Unload before you cross a fence, climb a tree, jump a ditch or hand the gun to a companion.
8. Watch your footing to avoid stumbling and falling. Don’t run with a gun.
9. Be sure a gun has a secure rest. Laying it against a log on the ground is better than leaning it vertically against a slippery car bumper or tree trunk.
10. Know the range of your gun. Effective shotgun range is about 40 yards, but pellets can travel 500 yards and endanger eyes. Shotgun slugs have a half-mile range. A high-velocity rifle bullet can travel three miles. Even a rimfire .22 can go more than a mile.