Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

NY: Hunter safety record worst in eight years

Albany – New York hunters last season tallied their worst safety
record since 2002, with 40 hunting-related shooting incidents,
including four fatalities.

The 40 shooting incidents was more than 50 percent higher than in
2009, when New York hunters posted their safest year ever afield,
with 26 hunting-related incidents involving firearms.

Three of the fatalities occurred during deer season; the other took
place during the spring gobbler season. All four shooting-related
deaths in the field involved shotguns, including one in which the
firearm was used illegally during the Northern Zone muzzleloader

DEC’s annual hunting safety report for 2010 showed two of the fatal
accidents involved self-inflicted gunshot wounds, and two others
involved a shot fired by another hunter.

“After two of the safest years in New York hunting history, reports
of hunting-related shooting incidents received by DEC for 2010 were
higher than average,” the report read. “Although this year’s total
was higher than the average of 38 (incidents) for the decade, it
was still well below the average of 66 incidents per year from the
1990s, and 137 incidents per year during the 1960s.”

DEC officials also noted that while the number of hunters in the
state has been declining, the hunting incident rate – per 100,000
hunters – is “falling much faster than the number of

The report showed that during the 1960s, the incident rate was 19
per 100,000 hunters; since 2000, the incident rate has been 6.4 per
100,000 hunters.

“You’re always hopeful there will be no accidents at all,” said
Mike Matthews, administrator of DEC’s sportsman education program.
“Especially since last year, when we had one fatality in the entire
season, it was disappointing this year to have four. And it started
with one right in the spring turkey season.”

Matthews said all 40 of the accidents were preventable if hunters
would have done one of two things: positively identified their
target or be aware of the direction the muzzle of their firearm was

“It’s really the common-sense things, the things you learn early
on,” he said. “These accidents were just a product of

Two of the fatal accidents also involved illegal activities:
hunting ahead of the Southern Zone firearms season and using a
shotgun during the Northern Zone muzzleloader season.

In addition, one individual shot himself in the foot for the second
time in recent years.

The 2010 was also a poor safety year for treestand use; several
fatalities and injuries were reported in which hunters fell from

“We don’t keep those statistics; we only deal with hunting-related
shooting incidents,” Matthews said. “But we’re aware of several
accidents involving treestand falls, so that was a problem,

Matthews said DEC officials have been discussing ways of improving
the state’s hunter safety record. One option may be an online
hunting safety refresher for sportsmen “who have been out of
hunting for a while or may be getting complacent or sloppy.”

The 2010 safety report also showed:

• 19 of the 40 shooting-related incidents occurred during deer
season. Seven occurred during spring gobbler season; three involved
rabbit hunting; two each took place while hunting fall turkeys, fox
and coyote, and waterfowl. One accident each involved squirrel and
upland bird hunting. Three others were placed in the “other” or
“unknown” category.

• 27 of the incidents involved the use of shotguns, while 12
accidents involved rifles and one a muzzleloader.

• Jefferson County recorded the most hunting-related shooting
incidents last season – four, including one fatality. Steuben
County had three incidents.

A summary of all the hunting-related shooting incidents is found

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