As a parent, the concern about getting into hunting is a valid one. I often wondered if my family and kids would be safe if we all hunted together. I had seen news stories and heard from friends about others getting injured while hunting, so I wanted to do some research to find out, statistically, if it’s really a dangerous sport in 2021 and beyond.
Deer hunting can be a dangerous sport. However, there are many different ways to hunt deer and often that makes all the difference in the world. Statistics show that a few changes to the way you deer hunt can dramatically reduce the risk of injury and make deer hunting a safe sport for kids and adults to enjoy.
Every task we complete each day comes with inherent risk. From driving back and forth to work, to mowing your yard, they all can be dangerous if not done properly. The risk tolerance you apply to your daily tasks goes hand in hand with the dangers involved with deer hunting.
Even so, I never want to jeopardize my family’s safety, so before I bought a rifle and hunting lease, I researched the risks involved with deer hunting. Ultimately, I found that hunting is a safe sport as long as it’s respected for what it is and the proper safeguards are set in place.
Interesting Statistics on Deer Hunting Related Injuries (1980-2021)
The statistics below are a great resource for evaluating the common trends related to injuries sustained while deer hunting. Simply wearing hunter orange and not hunting out of a tree stand DRASTICALLY increase the chances that you will not injure yourself while hunting.
Again, hunting does have its risks, but the stories below help shed some light on exactly how and why these deer hunting related injuries are occurring each year.
Younger adults and kids are increasingly at risk of getting injured if they are not properly supervised. But as you can see, numbers of hunting related injuries are constantly dropping year over year. In 2015, Pennsylvania had the lowest number of hunting related injuries ever recorded (Source).
From 1989-1995 in New York, a total of 508 hunting-associated firearm injuries were reported. This represents an annual mean rate of 9.8 injuries per 100,000 licensed hunters. (Source)
36% of the 594 hunting related injuries in Georgia from 1979-1986 were tree stand related. (Source)
Turkey hunting is the most dangerous sport, followed by deer hunting being the deadliest. Highest injury reports were those under 20 years old. (Source)
More hunting accidents involve tree stands than guns in Tennessee. You are 4 times more likely to fall out of as tree stand than be accidentally shot. (Source)
Mishandling of firearms is a leading cause of firearm related injuries and accidental discharges while hunting. (Source)
Lack of wearing hunter orange or hi-viz vests can cause mistaken identity resulting fatal in injuries. (Source)
An average of two hunters are killed and 23 injured in hunting accidents in Minnesota each year. This is a drastic decrease from 14 people killed and 95 injured in the 1970’s. The requirement of wearing hunter orange is largely attributed to the decrease in hunting related injuries. (Source)
Wearing Hunter orange is an inexpensive way to increase the safety of your hunt
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Deer Hunting is Safer than Bird Hunting
The fact is, and the sources above agree, that hunting related injuries are more likely to occur while bird hunting than deer hunting. There are several reasons why bird hunting is more dangerous then deer hunting:
- (1) Less experienced people bird hunt because it’s easier to participate in.
- (2) Bird hunting often is a fast paced sport with quick reactions.
- (3) There’s generally less requirements to wear hunter orange to notify others of your location. These factors all help contribute to more injuries overall.
Deer hunting does have its fair share of injuries too, and they tend to be fatal. This is due in large part to tree stands. Tree stands are the number one cause of fatalities while deer hunting. Injuries are often sustained from falls of more than 20 feet. Climbing in the dark and losing balance all can result in injuries related to tree stand falls.
Personally, you don’t have to use a tree stand to hunt deer. Ground blinds such as box blinds and pop up blinds make great alternatives and keep your feet planted on the ground. Reducing the need to be elevated can reduce the risk of being involved in a deer hunting related accident substantially.
Deer hunting is also incredibly slower paced than bird hunting. You almost always have plenty of time to survey each deer to make absolutely sure they are the animal you want to harvest and it’s safe to do so.
Additionally, studies have shown that wearing hunter orange while deer hunting has helped decrease overall hunting related injuries. Several states require hunter orange to be worn at all times while in the field deer hunting.
How Our Family Stays Safe While Deer Hunting
Taking the above statistics into account, changes were made to how my family and I approach our hunting adventures. We’ve found these safety measures to work for us, but respect your decision to implement them as you see fit. If you would rather not wear hunter orange, I get it, I really do. But just be aware that the risks involved drastically increase as proven safety measures that work are disregarded.
These are the safety measure our family have implemented that we believe have had a DRASTIC effect on our ability to be the most safety conscious deer hunters we can be.
- We purchased fluorescent orange vests and hats for everyone to wear while they are out in the field. According to statistics, the ability of other hunters to see us and avoid shooting in our direction is increased greatly.
- We sold all our old tree blinds and switch over to box blinds and pop up ground blinds. This eliminates the greatest cause of hunter related injuries from our lease and insures that all hunting will be done from the ground.
- Our whole family has taken a hunters safety course to familiarize ourselves with the basic knowledge we should know before we go hunting. Kids and inexperienced hunters are instructed on safe hunting practices and the do’s and don’ts of firearm safety.
- We also implement the buddy system so that should something happen, someone is capable of calling for help. Kids and other inexperienced hunters always have an adult present.
These steps may be drastic for some, but we have found them to work exceptionally well to keep our family safe while deer hunting. Having everyone on the same page and actively working with a safety conscious mind means everyone returns home from the hunt safely.
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