Hunting Safety Awareness | Common Hunting Accidents
You’ve heard it over and over again. First from your parents, then throughout school, and now you likely hear it preached at your workplace. “Stay safe.” It’s obviously great advice and there’s a lot that you (yes, you personally) can actually do to prevent unsafe situations from happening. But the reality is that there is always the unknown. It’s like baby-proofing your whole house, but then your kid just plain falls down in the middle of the floor and hurts him or herself. It’s similar with hunting safety and hunting accidents. Though you can do a lot to avoid them as both the landowner or the hunter and make the land safer, there is always a chance something bad could happen. That’s what makes hunting liability insurance so critical to have. When these freak accidents do happen, you can be sure that your insurance will help whoever is injured, protect you from liability concerns, and safeguard your property from damage.
First, to be fair, hunting has become a much safer sport to participate in than most people might assume. With the requirement to take hunter safety courses and firearm safety courses these days, not to mention legal ramifications, hunting accident statistics seem to drop a bit each year. And you’re much more likely to be in an accident in your own home or driving to work than while hunting. However, it is always a good decision to be protected if you’re a landowner leasing hunting land, a hunting guide or outfitter, or a hunter hunting on private land with permission. With that said, let’s jump into the top ten hunting accidents that do still happen every year across the nation.
1. ATV/Snowmobile/Vehicle Accident
A serious cause of hunting accidents each year actually involves a vehicle of some sort. Whether you’re simply on your way to the hunting property in your truck and hit a deer or you lose control of your snowmobile and hit a tree, there’s no doubt that vehicle accidents can be very serious. Many ATV accidents happen because users push them beyond their limitations, speeding faster than they should or causing rollovers. These hunter accidents are mostly preventable with safe riding or driving practices. Such practices include wearing protective gear and features (e.g., seatbelts, helmets, durable clothing, etc.), driving the speed limit (on roadways or as trail conditions dictate), and not putting yourself in a dangerous situation (e.g., fatigued driving, overloaded machines, severe weather, etc.).
2. Hunting Weapons
Firearm hunting incidents are one of the first things that most people think of when it comes to common hunting accidents. Though you’ll more often hear horror stories about firearms, bow hunting accidents do happen too. Most hunting weapon accidents revolve around someone mistakenly discharging their weapon, not identifying their target, or not knowing what is beyond their target. That’s why firearm safety courses are so important to take and keep in mind. Possible hunting accidents with guns include hunters dropping weapons, not using safety features, shooting at something moving in the woods (which they cannot identify), or hitting someone beyond the target but in the line of fire. Obviously, these hunting incidents are very serious and more often than other incident types result in a fatality.
3. Falling From Tree Stands
Another common accident is falling from a tree stand, and a tree stand accident unfortunately usually results in fatalities. Sometimes hunters misjudge the strength of a tree and accidentally climb up into a dead one, only to have everything come crashing down. Sometimes they use outdated and unsafe tree stands, which then fail in the tree. More commonly though, hunters slip while climbing into and out of their stand, or just nod off while in their tree stand. In those cases, using a hunter restraint system (while climbing and in the tree stand) is usually enough to save your life. Since it only takes another couple minutes of your time, it’s time well spent.
4. Damage to Property
Whether you are hunting on leased land or someone is hunting on your land, there is a risk that property will be damaged. This might include gates, fences, barns and outbuildings, or even valuable trees. How you use a property (or how someone uses your land) should be spelled out very clearly in a hunter lease agreement beforehand, so there are no gray areas to fight about. From that point, insurance policies are meant to help cover that damage.
5. Slips, Trips, and Falls
When you spend enough time outdoors, whether in some rugged terrain or just in an alfalfa field, there is a risk that you will slip, trip, or fall. Inevitably, you will encounter that humbling moment of falling on your face. Unfortunately, many hunting accidents occur this way. Maybe you just lose your balance and sprain your ankle on some rocks. It could be that you fall on something sharp. Or worse, you fall and your firearm discharges, hitting you, someone else, and/or property in the process. Constantly keep an eye on where you’re walking instead of glancing at your phone or looking somewhere else. If you’re a landowner, do all you can to point out the dangerous areas like slick rock faces, loose soil, or holes and wells that a hunter could fall into.
6. Physical Health Problems
Hunting can be hard work and puts your body through some strenuous moments. Dragging a mature buck out of the woods or packing an elk quarter to camp on your back is physically demanding. Not everyone is built for that kind of exertion. Heart attacks are somewhat common occurrences when the wrong person pushes it a little too far. Be conscious of what your body is telling you and don’t go beyond it.
When you’re field dressing an animal, there is a chance you could cut yourself. After all, your hands are slippery with blood and you’re often working in an awkward position. One slip or lapse of attention could quickly create a bad cut. Depending on how far away from help you are, that could be a serious hunting accident in the making. Of course, this could also happen while setting up camp or preparing food in the backcountry. Always be fully present and aware when you’re using a knife.
8. Drowning and Hypothermia
Though this doesn’t happen too often, drownings and water accidents do occur while hunting. The most common scenarios include while you’re waterfowl hunting or when using a boat to access a property. When the weather (and thus the water) is very cold and you’ve got lots of bulky layers on, it can be hard to get out and warm up again before hypothermia sets in. That’s what makes these hunting accidents so dangerous when they do occur.
9. Rusty Nails and Barbed Wire
Generally, these accidents only happen in farm or ranch country where you find an abundance of barbed wire or old buildings and fence posts. Hunters can quickly get tangled in an old pile of barbed wire if they’re not paying attention, or get snagged while crossing a fence line. Additionally, they might reach out to a building or fence post only to pierce their hands with a rusty nail. As long as you can clean the wound and get it checked soon after, this is a pretty mild accident. But if you plan on leasing your property, these hazards should be cleaned up before leasing it out.
10. Getting Lost
On certain large properties, it’s fairly easy to get turned around if you’re in unfamiliar territory. When you get confused, you get panicked and start making bad decisions, which usually results in you getting even more lost. The best way to counteract this issue is to stop immediately when you’re not sure where you’re at. Always carry a compass and a map so you can locate your position. Keeping a GPS on you definitely helps too.
There you have it – the ten most common hunting accidents that could happen on your property or on a hunting trip. Always keep them in mind while you’re out hunting. As a matter of fact, make it a life goal to not try any of them! All of these dangers pose a very real need for hunting liability insurance. Whether you are a hunting outfitter, a hunting guide, a landowner leasing hunting land, or a hunter on a hunting lease…get a free hunting insurance quote today and make sure you are protected!