It’s always a good idea, when you go hunting, to leave a note with someone at home letting them know where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
A lot can happen out there.
Slips. Falls. Hypothermia. A knife cut. Getting lost.
Chances are, though – and this may surprise a lot of non-hunters especially – if you’re going to get hurt, it likely won’t be via a gunshot.
In 2014, there were just 29 hunting accidents – or hunting-related shooting incidents, as they’re officially called – across Pennsylvania. That’s two years straight with fewer than 30. The all-time record low of 27 accidents was recorded in 2013.
That represents quite the change.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission has been tracking hunting accidents since 1915. Its records show that in the first few decades of the 20th century, hunting accidents commonly numbered in the hundreds annually.
They’ve been trending downward over time, though. The commission attributes that to two things: the advent of mandatory hunter education beginning in 1959 and rules requiring hunters to wear high-visibility orange during many seasons.
Only one of last year’s 29 accidents was a fatality. There’s been at least one of those every year, with 2012 the only exception.
The leading cause of accidents was a victim being in the line of fire, which accounted for 34 percent of the total. Accidental discharge and a victim being shot for game each accounted for 21 percent of accidents.
One other thing worth noting?
Most offenders were veteran hunters, with more than 10 years experience afield. So don’t get careless just because you’ve been there and done that.
Staying vigilant means staying safe. Then, everyone comes home happy and with another wonderful memory.