In the wake of a number of recent hunting-related shooting incidents, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos is reminding hunters to follow basic hunter safety rules when going afield this hunting season.
"While statistics show that hunting in New York state is safer than ever, mistakes are made every year. But every hunting-related shooting incident is preventable," Seggos said. "We urge hunters to use common sense and remember what they were taught in their DEC hunters education course."
DEC's Hunting Safety Rules
•Assume every gun is loaded.
•Control the muzzle. Point your gun in a safe direction.
•Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
•Be sure of your target and beyond.
•DEC encourages hunters to wear blaze orange or pink. Wearing orange or pink prevents other hunters from mistaking a person for an animal, or shooting in your direction. Hunters who wear hunter orange are seven times less likely to be shot.
•When hunting in tree stands, use a safety harness and a climbing belt, as most tree stand accidents occur when hunters are climbing in and out of the stand. Also, never climb in or out of a tree stand with a loaded rifle.
•Always be prepared for winter conditions when venturing in the woods, inform a friend or relative of your whereabouts, and pack emergency supplies.
DEC environmental conservation officers are investigating two recent hunting-related shooting fatalities, both involving accidental shootings that could have been avoided.
DEC requires every hunter to take a special hunters education course before they can receive a license to hunt. Since New York's sportsman education program was first introduced in 1950, the number of hunting-related accidents has declined by 80 percent.
A DEC report showed 2015 was the first year without a hunting-related shooting fatality in New York since record-keeping on hunting statistics began more than 60 years ago. 2015 also continued the trend of declining incidents with respect to New York's hunting-related shooting incident rate (incidents per 100,000 hunters). The past five-year average is down to four incidents per 100,000 hunters, compared to 19 per 100,000 hunters in the 1960s.
There were 23 hunting incidents documented in 2015, the third-lowest number on record, with 10 incidents self-inflicted and 13 two-party incidents. View and print the 2015 hunter safety statistics report here: http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/nyhrsi2015.pdf.