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
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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.

READ MORE: Changes to Hunting & Sporting Licenses in New York

Hunter safety in new york
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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.

READ MORE: Close Encounter! 2 Moose Pass Under Hunter's Tree Stand

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
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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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Gallery Credit: Credit - Polly McAdams

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Gallery Credit: Credit - Polly McAdams

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