As the weather turns colder, people around the country are preparing for traditional fall and winter activities. While for many that means football and holidays, others are gearing up for the multiple hunting seasons this time of year brings. Hunters are planning their trips, upgrading their gear, buying their permits or licenses, all the while imagining bagging that twelve-point deer or thirty-pound wild turkey. But any experienced hunter will tell you that though hunting is fun and exciting, it should always be taken deadly seriously. While jokes abound about the politician who bagged his biggest contributor, or the group of hunters who took out an entire herd of wild beers, hunting safety is no laughing matter.
Hundreds of people are reported injured yearly in hunting accidents. The International Hunter Education Association (IHEA) compiles a list of those incidents on record. In 2007, the most recent report, 239 hunting accidents were reported, of which 19 were fatal. The majority of these injuries could have been prevented if the hunters and those around them had followed some basic safety rules. Of these, handling your gun safely is of number one importance.
Know when your gun is loaded, and keep it unloaded except for when hunting. Additionally, avoid carrying it loaded while traveling in a car, four-wheeler, running or climbing. Keep your finger clear of the trigger until you intend to fire the weapon. All of these can help avoid misfires.
Always point your gun in a safe direction -- never point it at anything you aren’t immediately prepared to shoot. “Playing” around with a gun is never acceptable, and you should never allow anyone around you to do so either.
Never shoot at anything until you are 100% certain of the target – often accidents occur because a hunter shot towards noise or movement which turned out to be another person.
Make certain the area in front of, next to and behind the target is sufficiently clear in case of misses, through-and-through’s or ricochets.
Be aware of your surroundings and never fire a gun outside of a clear and safe area. IHEA’s 2007 report showed the number one cause of hunting accidents occurred when hunters “swung on game” to catch a target in motion. When hunting with others, it is vital to establish where everyone is located and each individual’s safe zone for shooting.
Too often, drinking and hunting go hand in hand. As a result, a number of hunting accidents are alcohol-related. Never hunt while under the influence, and avoid those who do.
Unfortunately, many hunting accidents are the result of careless and/or negligent behavior. If you suspect or witness illegal or dangerous behavior while hunting, remove yourself from the area and contact either the game warden or the local police department. And always report any injuries which occur. Also, if you or someone you know has been injured, you may also contact an Illinois personal injury attorney who can assist you in pursuing recovery for medical expenses and damages.
About the Author: Brooke Haley marketing associate at Millon & Peskin, Chicago workers compensation attorney that practice in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers’ Compensation, and Personal Injury. Millon & Peskin is a General Civil Litigation Practice with the goal of representing the interests of injured workers, throughout all applicable Courts within the State of Illinois. For more information, please visit http://www.millonpeskin.com.