The 2017 hunting seasons in New York saw the second-lowest number of hunting-related shooting incidents (HRSIs) on record, 19. DEC also started tracking tree stand injuries for the first time in 2017 and recorded 12 incidents statewide.
Of the 19 HRSIs that occurred last year, 14 were two-party firearm incidents, five were self-inflicted, and one resulted in a fatality.
Of the two-party HRSIs, 11 of the victims (79 percent) were not wearing hunter orange. Incidents involving two or more individuals stress the importance of identifying the target and what lies beyond.
In 11 of the 19 incidents (59 percent), a violation of hunting laws or regulations occurred.
New York’s lowest HRSI rate was in 2016 according to DEC, with just 13 incidents; 2013 experienced 19. In 1991, the agency reported 98 incidents. In 1979, 110. In 1966, there were 166, 13 of which were fatal.
DEC encourages hunters to remember that every hunting-related shooting incident is preventable. Many, if not all of these incidents could have been prevented if the people involved had followed the primary rules of hunter safety:
Treat every firearm as if it were loaded
Control the muzzle, keep it pointed in a safe direction
Identify your target and what lies beyond
Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire
Wear hunter orange
In 2017, DEC Commissioner Seggos requested the agency’s Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) to track and investigate tree stand injuries for the first time. While figures are from preliminary reports, they may not capture all tree stand incidents that occurred statewide in New York DEC says.
Of the 12 incidents reported and investigated, six proved to be fatal, a number commensurate with other states that track these statistics.
Investigations revealed that in 75 percent of the incidents, hunters were not wearing any kind of full-body harness to secure them in their stand. Used correctly, a harness keeps the hunter connected from the time they leave the ground to the moment they get back down.
Many, if not all incidents could be prevented if hunters follow a few basic tips:
Use and properly adjust a full-body harness
Use a safety belt or lifeline when climbing
Check your stand every year and replace any worn parts
Have a plan and let others know where you will be hunting
Use a haul line to raise and lower your equipment (unloaded firearm, bow, or crossbow)
For more information, including the 2017 Hunting Safety Statistics and the 2017 Tree Stand Safety Statistics, visit the DEC Hunter Education Program page.