How safe was the hunting season in New York State? A lot safer than over 50 years ago.

There were 166 hunting-related shooting incidents reported in 1966. In 2023, there were only 12, making it the second-safest hunting season on record. However, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) said 2 of the twelve resulted in fatalities that could have been avoided.

“Thanks to New York’s Hunter Education Program and hunters following the rules of firearm safety, hunting continues to be a safe activity enjoyed by thousands of New Yorkers and visitors each year,” said Commissioner Seggos.

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Credit - Sebastian Pociecha/Unsplash
Credit - Sebastian Pociecha/Unsplash

2 Hunting Fatalities

One fatality was from a hunter hauling a loaded firearm into a tree stand, which you should never do. The other occurred while dragging a harvested deer out of the woods with a loaded firearm, also something hunters should never do.

New York has an extremely safety-conscious generation of hunters and trappers, thanks largely to more than 70 years of dedicated efforts of volunteer Hunter Education Program instructors.

All first-time hunters must complete a safety course and pass the final exam before being able to purchase a license in the state of New York.

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Hunter safety in new york
Credit - river34/Think Stock

Tree Stand Injuries

In 2017, the DEC began recording tree stand injuries for the first time. This year, 8 incidents were reported. One from a harness attached to the stand that broke instead of being attached to the tree. The other hunter suffered extensive injuries in a fall from not using a harness at all.

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Hunters are being reminded to follow the 'ABCs' of tree stand safety to avoid injuries or fatalities.

Always remove and inspect the tree stand before use.
Buckle on the full-body harness securely every time.
Connect to the tree before your feet leave the ground.

Unloaded guns and crossbows should be pulled up into the tree stand on a haul line rather than trying to carry them while you climb.

Learn more about tree stand incidents on the DEC’s website.

tree stand safety in new york
Credit - Pascal Bebrunner/Unsplash

Hunting Safety 101

Most hunting-related shooting incidents can be prevented if everyone follows Hunting Safety 101:

  • Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
  • Control the muzzle, and 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 or pink.

Hunting Safety Statistics are available on DEC’s website.

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