Are hunting accidents diminishing in your state?
According at least to a report from the Des Moines Register, Iowa is just one state that is currently experiencing an era of prosperous hunting safety.
Reports indicate that hunting in Iowa was a relatively catastrophic affair in the late 1960s, when at least a hundred injuries were reported per year during the peak years of 1965, 1966, and 1967. Those three years also notched the state an alarmingly high death rate of 58, a number that has decreased dramatically since.
In contrast, the past few hunting seasons have been periods of unprecedented safety for the state of Iowa, with only 102 accidents on the books for the past five years, and only three of said accidents resulted in fatalities.
Iowa’s promising numbers represent a trend of sorts in the hunting world, where our sport is largely becoming a significantly safer sport than it used to be. Sadly, when it comes to lethal weapons, accidents do happen, and hunting injuries and fatalities will very likely never disappear entirely for that reason. However, the current situation begs the question of why hunting accidents have decreased so dramatically over the past few decades and what can be done to continue that trend.
The Des Moines Register report indicates that most hunting injuries are due to little more than carelessness. We all have heard the horror stories: a hunter gets casual with his or her weapon, forgets to turn the safety on, and accidentally shoots a buddy. The great majority of hunting accidents involve firearms, and years of hearing about such accidents have engraved certain reminders in our brains – keep the safety on, check your weapon for mechanical failures prior to a hunt, don’t keep your finger on the trigger, don’t point your gun at yourself or another hunter, etc.
In Iowa, most of the decline in hunting accidents is being credited to the state’s mandatory hunting education classes. The state also requires all hunters to wear blaze orange clothing – in hopes that injuries in crowded hunting spots can be prevented – but the orange might not actually be doing much. The state also reports that there are fewer hunters registering in Iowa than there once were, resulting in emptier hunting spots and fewer accidents, with or without the visibility provided by blaze orange.
The modern trend of safety in hunting can also likely be connected to modern hunting equipment, from tree stands to rifles to bows – which is taking advantage of technological advancement to become safer than ever before. While it isn’t a good thing that most hunting accidents are connected to carelessly handled weapons, it also means that fatal injuries resulting from faulty tree stand installations are receding into the background.
If careless gun accidents can be diminished further, the hunting world would stand a legitimate chance of eliminating its reputation for accidents entirely. More states requiring mandatory hunting classes could be the route to such a decrease, as could firearm manufacturers. A “smart” gun with greater safety control protections could revolutionize the industry and save many a hunter from life-threatening situations.