13 injured in N.Y. hunting accidents in 2018

Hunters across New York had just 13 shooting-related incidents last year, tying a low set in 2016 and halving the number of shootings from a decade ago.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation released its statistics from 2018, and while there were three fatalities related to hunting, only one occurred in the North Country. Of the 13 shootings, seven were two-party and six were self-inflicted.

The DEC noted in a press release that of the seven two-party incidents, six of the victims were not wearing hunter orange. Hunting has generally become much safer, as the DEC requires all hunters to take safety courses. The number of hunters has also decreased, but the pace of hunting incidents has fallen faster than the decline in hunters.

“Since the 1960s, the number of hunters has declined about 20 percent, while the incident rate has declined almost 80 percent,” the DEC said. “The current five-year average is 3.1 incidents per 100,000 hunters, compared to 19 per 100,000 hunters in the 1960s.”

Of the three fatalities, the lone North Country incident occurred in Essex County, when a 75-year-old man shot himself in the chest while using his rifle to stand up. The other two fatalities involved a 16-year-old boy who was killed when his rifle fell and discharged, hitting him in the head in Otsego County, and the third fatality was a 54-year-old man who was sitting in a chair when he was shot in the back in Tioga County.

Many of the self-inflicted wounds involved hunters accidentally discharging their firearms. One 14-year-old boy injured his foot after slipping on some ice; another man was resting the muzzle of his gun on his boot when it discharged; and a third man shot off part of his own index finger while trying to put down a deer with a handgun.

Most of the two-party incidents involved hunters accidentally shooting members of their hunting party, although one person was shot in the face when a hunter’s slug passed through a deer and then hit a car that was driving by. A 50-year-old woman was shot in the butt by a hunting partner when a deer ran between them; another man shot his cousin in the leg while tracking a deer; and an uncle shot his niece, hitting her in the scalp, buttocks, back and elbow.

The DEC also began tracking tree stand incidents for the first time in 2017, when there were 12 incidents, including five fatalities. The DEC recorded just five such falls in 2018, and none were fatal.

Although no one was killed falling from a tree stand last year, the victims suffered injuries such as broken and sprained ankles, spinal damage, frostbite, concussion and injuries to internal organs.

The full list of hunting incidents and statistics can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/49506.html.