Prehistoric man hunted wild game for food with spears and other crude weapon, and still remains a popular pastime today where adults teach the use of bows and arrows and rifles to shoot and kill deer, elk, ducks and other wild game. It enables fathers to bond with their sons–and daughters–while enjoying the outdoors.
Hunting with firearms is one of the safest recreational activities in America, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms industry. The foundation compiled data that shows hunting ranks third in safety when compared to 28 other recreational pursuits, ranging from baseball to wrestling.
One reason for the safety record is most states require young hunters to pass a firearms safety course. However, accidents can and do occur, and they can be deadly. In April 2014, the police chief of Monteagle, Tenn., accidentally shot and killed a friend during a hunting trip.
Perhaps the best-covered hunting accident over the past decade occurred in February 2006 when then-Vice President Dick Cheney shot and wounded a campaign contributor during a weekend quail hunt on a friend’s ranch in South Texas. The 78-year-old friend recovered after being hit by several pellets of birdshot. Cheney endured some embarrassment but survived politically.
You can take several steps to avoid hunting accidents, whether you are a hunter or enjoy other outdoor pursuits such as hiking. Safety measures include:
- Never load or carry a loaded gun until you are ready to shoot.
- Watch your muzzle and make sure it is pointed in a safe direction.
- Never move into another hunter’s line of fire.
- Unload before you cross a fence, climb a tree, jump a ditch or hand a gun to a companion.
- Make sure all children taking part in a hunt are accompanied by an adult.
- Be sure the gun has a secure rest.
- Know the range of your gun.
- If you are hiking in the woods, avoid areas where hunting takes place and wear bright clothing so you will not be mistaken as wild game.
You want to be safe while hunting with your family. If you, a family member or both are injured during a hunting accident, notify game wardens or other authorities immediately. Hunters could face liability if they lack licenses, receive inadequate training, or otherwise violate laws and standard safety practices. Assert your rights by seeking a consultation with a personal-injury if you are injured, or a loved one is injured or killed because others are at fault.