May 30, 2012
An unfortunate reality of our sport is that sometimes it's the hunters who don't return home at night. Each year, too many of us die in the woods. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, in 2010 over 8,000 hunting related accidents were reported out of over 16,300,000 total hunters. Statistically, the number of accidents related to total hunters isn't too shabby, but one accident is too many. Many of us dedicated deer hunters would love to take our last peaceful breaths while enjoying the great outdoors. That being said, there's no sense in speeding up the process.
A majority of hardcore deer hunters take to the trees each fall hoping to gain an edge on the whitetail's keen senses. The trees are also where most of our accidents happen. Each year, countless people fall from trees resulting in serious injuries. If a fall victim leaves with a few bumps and bruises, they are lucky. Many falls result in broken bones, paralysis, and even severe brain damage. Several people also die each year as a result of their fall. Many of these deaths are the result of obvious causes such as brain damage, and broken spine or neck. Other more obscure deaths are from being impaled on a steel fencepost or tree branch, hung upside down in a poor quality safety harness, or being paralyzed and left for dead. The possibilities for a fatal treestand fall are endless. Be sure to use proper safety equipment when hunting off the ground.
Too many people each fall are killed by other hunter's bullets. Often times, people are mistaken for deer, and shot by a partner or relative. There have even been documented instances where fathers have accidentally shot their sons and vice versa. Poor communication between hunters regarding their locations results in a large portion of the accidental shootings each season. Ricocheting bullets claim their fair share of human causalities as well. Improper loading, unloading, and handling of firearms make up the majority of self-inflicted gunshot wounds. It's important to remember, a gun's safety is a mechanical device, and can fail. Roughly ten percent of all accidental shootings end in death. Be sure of the target, what is behind it, and wear hunter orange!
Deer hunting is hard work! Depending on the terrain, getting to that perfect stand can be much easier said than done. With every possible gizmo and gadget in tow, trudging through the waist high swamp, climbing over the jagged mountain, or shuffling through a frozen cornfield can be vigorous exercise. After the hunt, dragging that huge old buck back out can be even more difficult! Father time catches up with several unhealthy deer hunters each season, and many die of heart attacks. We hunters can't change fate, but we can stay in shape for the grueling season that lies ahead. There are all sorts of training plans online specifically geared toward deer hunters.
Any hunter worth their salt will stand up for what is right. Unfortunately, sometimes these situations become confrontations that end tragically. It's not unheard of to learn about a hunter who confronted an armed poacher, or trespasser, and didn't make it home to tell the story. Protecting our natural resources is the hunter's first responsibility, but using common sense needs to be in the foreground.
The ATV has become a staple in many deer camps throughout the country and for good reason. ATV's are fun to drive and can be quite a useful tool for anything from clearing food plots, cutting trails and trees to dragging out that big ole' swamp buck. Each year countless people are fatally injured in ATV accidents and hunters are no exception. A thick layer of insulated camouflage clothing doesn't protect against a crash. As scent eliminating facemask doesn't double as a safe and secure helmet. Drive smart and be safe.
Mature bucks don't get old by being stupid. Many of the wise old warriors use water to their advantage and hide where only a boat will bring a hunter into their backyard. Several hardcore hunters do not leave home without their canoes. As with ATV's, deer hunters are not immune to watercraft accidents and drowning. Scent conscious hunters who do not want to sway from their regiment sometimes choose not to contaminate their clothing with PFD's. Wear a proper fitting PFD whenever using a watercraft.
WHEN ANIMALS ATTACK
Mother Nature claims her fair share of deer hunters each season as well. It's always possible for a hunter to be attacked by a bear or cougar, get bitten by a snake, or have a deadly reaction to a bee sting. Some stranger occurrences happen from time to time as well. Last year an Indiana hunter approached a wounded buck before the animal expired. The end result was that the hunter was gored to death.