Conclusion Blog #10

Hey guys,

This will be my last post of the semester and I just want to say that I’ve had fun researching a topic that means so much to me personally.  I’ve had the opportunity to discuss hunters safety with countless people over the past few months and I think we can actually make a difference.

For my last post, I will summarize everything I’ve learned so far including most common accidents, how to avoid those accidents, research struggles, proposals and possible solutions.

Together we’ve learned that 1 in 3 hunters will fall from a tree stand at some point during their hunting life.  People make their own stand from scrap wood and nail them to trees thinking they did an adequate job only to wake up in the hospital with a severe concussion and multiple fractured ribs.  Tree stand safety is the easiest thing we can work to fix.  Majority of falls are due to inadequate stand supports (homemade stands,) failure to use safety harnesses, and alcohol consumption.  Please dont be stupid this hunting season. Spend the hundred bucks or so on a real stand, wear the harness that comes with it, and if you must drink, wait till your home so you dont endanger anyone else.

We’ve also learned that hunting accidents are grossly under reported because majority of states compile statistics on a voluntarily submitted basis.  Under funding is one cause of this and ill be sure to address this serious issue in my final report.

My final recommendations to the Safety Education Division of Maryland DNR will be to set a reasonable minimum age for unsupervised hunting, expand the hunters safety course to include a mandatory live fire, hands on proper tree stand usage, and stricter regulations instructors.  I am recommending instructors to be paid employees with a supervisor assigned but i realize the managerial limitations the department has.  If that is not feasible then at least a more in depth curriculum where the students are responsible for the material with no supervisory help allowed.

Thank you all for joining me on this journey, I’ve enjoyed myself more than i originally realized i would.  Remember your safety rules and together we can make a safer, more enjoyable hunting season for everyone this year.

Lane

 

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What can we do Blog #9

Hey guys,

Thanks for joining me again for edition nine of my hunters safety blog.

As you know, over the past few months I have been extensively researching the nationwide epidemic that is the high number of hunting accidents. I’ve shared the different types of accidents with you, as well as possible causes to these. Today, however, i want to talk with you about what we can do, as outdoors enthusiasts, as hunters, as friends of hunters, and as parents or guardians to reduce the number of yearly accidents.

It does not appear as though any major legislative change is coming anytime soon and Natural Resources departments across the country seem to be content where the numbers currently are, so it is up to us to do our part to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe this hunting season.

Now would be the perfect time to revisit the 7 Types of Hunting Accidents to Avoid and to check out the 2 part blog series on them that i wrote in week four and week five.  We now know that tree stand falls happen to 1 in every 3 hunters at some time during their life so definitely revisit this post as well.  The first step to avoiding these accidents is to be aware that they can and do happen.

Specifically i want to discuss the 4 main safety rules to follow that are outlined here by OffGrid Survival.

  • Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction

Something as simple as getting too excited in a good hunting story can turn deadly when you are unaware of where you are pointing your weapon.  One slip of the finger, or  your weapon slips from your hands and bang.

  • There is no such thing as an unloaded weapon

It happens all the time, people pull the magazine out of the gun and forget about the one still loaded in the chamber. Even if you think it is unloaded, always treat your weapon as if it is loaded.

  • Know what is in front of and behind your target

Another accident that occurs far too often is not checking beyond your target.  When the deer walks out and your adrenaline is pumping, you put the crosshairs above the shoulder and shoot. You missed the deer but hit your friend hunting the other side of the field.  At 3000 feet per second, you dont have be off target by much to way overshoot.

  • Keep your finger off the trigger.

Your finger belongs on the trigger at one time and one time only:  when you are shooing your game.  Carry the gun by the butt and the stock, never by the trigger.  Accidents happen but this is the best way to prevent them.

Follow these safety tips and you are sure to have a safe experience this hunting season.  Last thing I will leave you with is this amusing video i was emailed the other day.  Take hunting seriously but also have fun with it.

Until next week,

Lane

9 Years old with a gun Blog #8

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Hey everyone,

Welcome back to another weekly edition of my Hunters safety blog. Today I want to talk about something that has been bothering me throughout my research.  It is agreed that majority of hunting accidents involve young people between the ages of 16 – 21.  It might be the invincible attitude young people tend to have or maybe just an overall carelessness and the thinking that “it could never happen to me, but whatever it is.  We need to find a way to eliminate it.

Its unrealistic to think that we can eliminate all hunting accidents because sometimes that is exactly what it is: an accident.  However, there is an alarming rate of injuries and deaths happening to our young people and any reduction we can cause is worth the cost but i will get more into that next week. What i really want to discuss with you today is this article written by Mike Stuckey (you can also find it in the Must Reads!! tab.)

In this article Mike tells us the minimum age requirement to hunt without supervision by state and let me tell you now, it is shocking.

  • Nine states have the minimum age set at 12 years old.
  • Missouri is 11 years old.
  • Alaska, Tennessee, and Louisiana is 10 years old.
  • In Texas the minimum age is 9 years old!
  • Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Vermont, and Washington have no minimum age requirement!

That means in seven states it is 100% legal to send an 8 year old into the woods with a high powered rifle to shoot a bear! Only if someone can give him a ride because the law wont allow him to drive for another 8 years.

There’s no question that children this young lack the comprehension ability, the real world experience, and the seriousness to handle the sport we love.  Instead of ignoring this issue we need to take a stand and stop setting our kids up for failure.

I don’t have all the answers or know the mental capacity of children at varying ages but i do know that no 9 year old belongs in the woods with a high powered gun by himself and you would think our lawmakers do too but that is apparently not true. However, not all the blame can be thrown onto lawmakers, its our job as parents and hunting enthusiasts to know when our young people are and are not ready to take on this pastime alone.

Thats all i have for this week, please join me next week as I go through proposals to the Safety Education Division as well as other recommendations for us citizens and lawmakers as well.

Until next week,

Lane

My Challenges Blog #7

Hello and welcome back to another weekly edition of my blog on Hunters Safety Education.  If this is your first time visiting, be sure to go back to the home page and check out the earlier blogs.  Also definitely check out the articles I posted on the Must Reads!! tab.

This week I want to get into some of the problems researchers face when exploring these issues and possible some solutions to these challenges.  I have been researching this topic for over two months now and the biggest issue I am facing is that hunting accidents, specifically in my home state of Maryland, are grossly under reported.

The main source of information where you can find actual statistics of hunting accidents is the International Hunters Education Association.  I applaud the work they have put into compiling these statistics however there are several issues with the data.  Firstly, the most recent data available is from 2007.  We are quickly approaching 2016, almost a decade removed from the most recent incidents available to the public.  Oddly enough, up until 2007 the IHEA had produced statistics on hunting incidents every year starting in 1994 and then all of a sudden, the reports stopped.

There is an interesting theory as to why these reports are no longer made.  It has to do with our old friends at the NSSF.  If you have not heard of the report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, you need to check it out here.  Then be sure to read this report that shows just how skewed the NSSF reporting was.

So as I was searching for more recent data on the IHEA website, I noticed a small credit to the NSSF in the lower corner.  “This website was made possible by a grant from the National Shooting Sports Foundation,” is written in fine print on the homepage.  So the IHEA has been putting out these hunting incident reports until the NSSF, the same group that funds the IHEA web page, released a highly publicly criticized report about how safe hunting is.   Strange that there are no hunting incident reports in the years surrounding the NSSF claims.  I don’t see how this is coincidental.

The second and most important factor in under reporting of hunting accidents is that there is no government agency collecting the data.  As i said earlier the IHEA is the best place to find statistics and they are purely voluntary collections from states natural resources departments.  In 2007, 30 states did not report any data at all!

These factors are proving to be major obstacles in my research, but i will not be phased.  I am currently working on a large primary research survey that I am looking forward to sharing with you in the coming weeks.

With the rut coming upon us, bucks will be chasing doe and more and more hunters will be hitting the woods.  Be sure to use extra caution as you get out there this week. Check your surroundings and be wary of other hunters on public lands. Thanks for joining me on this adventure. Feel free to leave a comment.

Until next week

Lane.

The Ugly Truth Blog #6

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Hello again,

Welcome back to another weekly edition of my blog. If you are just joining me, i recommend you go back and definitely read the previous blogs to get a better idea of why I am writing.  Also don’t forget to check out the links I have provided to interesting and informative articles under the Must Reads tab,

Today I want mainly talk about an article from the National Shooting Sports Foundation that was released a few years ago.  The article, titled Hunting is Safer than Golf and Most Other Activities, attempts to convince the reader that Hunting is one of safest activities you can partake in.  On the surface, this statement seems absurd and as you look into the research of the article, it becomes clear that it truly is absurd.

The report essentially used data from the National Sporting Goods Association to estimate the number of of sports participants in the U.S. They then used estimates from the Consumer Products Safety Commission and the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System to total the number of injuries for each sport.  Divide the number of sports participants by the number of injuries for each sport and voila, hunting is the 3rd safest sport in America.

It is easy to see how this report misrepresents the facts.  My first question is how did they account for the hundreds of yearly deaths that occur while hunting that are extremely rare in any other sport.  In fine print, the report states “Injury versus fatality data by activity are unavailable.” Seems just a little too convenient if you ask me.

In a very well written rebuttal by Nick Leghorn from The Truth About Guns, we find the truth behind the research flaws in the original report.  I will do my best to give you a quick synopsis but I highly encourage you inform yourself by reading the entire report.

To start, the number of hunting accidents reported by the NSSF combines data from the CPSC and the International Hunter Education Association. Somehow, the CPSC only accounts for two categories for hunting accidents but has six categories for fireplace accidents. Also while the original report largely relies on data from the IHEA, it fails to inform the reader that IHEA numbers are purely voluntary coming from states Department of Natural Resources where some states do not submit any data whatsoever.  This largely underestimates the actual number of accidents involved in hunting.  Like I previously stated, the rebuttal also touches on how the report does not account for the severity of the injury. Refusing to account for deaths automatically skews the data presented.  Overall, the report by the NSSF is inadequately researched and intentionally misrepresented.

I have had a few people bring up this report to me in the past few weeks when I have been doing research for this blog which is why I wanted to share the truth with you.  These people did as many do and took a biased report at face value. They did not do their own homework and were misinformed.

Thanks again for joining me on this adventure and I look forward to continuing to share my findings with you.  Feel free to leave a comment.

Until next week,

Lane

7 Deadly Sins (Part 2) Blog #5

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Hey guys,

Thanks for joining me again. Be sure to check out the earlier blogs and the articles under the Must Reads!! tab.

Last week i got into the first 3 of 7 accidents that hunters and the public may not be aware of that happen while hunting.  In the second installment of my 2-part series, I want to finish the final 4 with you.  The main reason I am spotlighting these accidents is that majority of these accidents are not taught to us when we take the Hunters Safety Course.  If the goal of the Hunters Safety Course is to keep hunters safe, then it would make sense that we be informed of the different types of accidents and how to avoid them.

I am going to pick up where I left off with number 4 where Jason Herbert, in 7 Hunting Accidents to Avoid, lists hunter confrontations. This accident is fairly rare but when it does occur it almost always ends badly.  I don’t know why but something about big bucks drive hunters a little crazy.  When a hunter shoots a deer and that deer runs off to the neighboring property, the shooter more often than not hops the fence to retrieve his prize. Depending on the size of said prize and the other landowner’s personality.  A peaceful discussion can turn ugly. Verbal arguments are a guarantee with physical confrontation likely as well.  With both hunters carrying a weapon, in extreme cases, these can turn deadly.

Another confrontation is with poachers.  Hunters put in a lot of work every year to get that once in a lifetime buck but often that opportunity is taken from them when poachers illegally shoot deer.  Poachers wander property that they do not have permission to be on, often and night and shoot game out of season or at night when they are bedded down.  When a hunter sees a poacher, he justifiably could become enraged.  There are many cases where a hunter has confronted a poacher only to be left fighting for his life with a gunshot wound.  The general rule is, if you don’t know the owner of the property you need to get to, or the person who has wandered onto your property, get the Natural Resources Police involved.  Its their job to handle situations likes these.

The 5th accident that has shown an increase in recent years is ATV accidents.  Hunters have started using ATV’s for clearing food plots, dragging big game from thickets, and most commonly transportation from camp to a hunting site.  ATV’s are built for rough terrain but far too often, hunters push the limits of their stability trying to take a shortcut or through reckless use.  Proper safety equipment and operations are another aspect left out of the Hunters Safety Course.

Accident to avoid 6 is drowning.  This is common in waterfowl hunting.  For deer hunters it is fairly uncommon but nevertheless important.  With scents being an important part to hunting, hunters often wont wear life vests when they take to the waters.  With weight of extra equipment or even big game that has been killed, boats and canoes handle differently which can lead to overturning, hypothermia, and drowning. Again another aspect of hunting excluded from the safety course.

Finally, accident number 7 is dangerous animals.  Bear, mountain lions, poisonous snakes, and rutting deer all claim lives of hunters during the year.  Being aware of the nature of frightened animals is one way to protect yourself from the wild.

That wraps up my 2-part series and as you should now know, there are many different ways hunters get injured or killed each year.  It is our responsibility as hunters to prepare ourselves and keep our loved ones safe. Do your part to be safe and make sure others do as well.

Until next week,

Lane

7 Deadly Sins (Part 1) Blog #4

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Hey guys,

Welcome back to another weekly edition of my Hunters Safety blog.  If you haven’t already, i would recommend checking out the earlier posts and the Must Reads!! tab.

So this week I want to talk to you guys about something that most people and apparently the Hunters Safety Course do not realize.  Not all hunting injuries are firearms related.  Before i started researching this topic heavily, when someone said there was a hunting accident, I assumed someone was shot.  Many times this is the case but its not always the case and should not be treated as if it is.

In a wonderfully designed and written article by Jason Herbert from North American Whitetail, we come to the realization that when hunting, danger is prevalent in just about everything we do.  The focus of Jason’s article is to highlight the 7 most common types of hunting injuries we should be aware of and what we can do to avoid them.

First, and statistically most common, is what we all expect; accidental shootings. Whether the shooter fails to check beyond the target, drops or mishandles the gun, shoots while swinging on a moving target, or simply fails to recognize a hunter in the woods, accidental shooting are the most common and deadly type of accident that occurs in the woods.

Second is a topic that i touched on last week; treestand accidents.  Hunters often attempt to climb the stand with the weapon in one hand instead of using a strap to lift the weapon.  Other times hunters slip from stands while ascending, descending, or adjusting position for a shot. Believe it or not, some hunters actually fall asleep in the early hours and fall from the stand.  No matter how it happens, tree stand accidents are very common and the fact that Maryland Hunters Safety Course does not include tree stand safety as a hands on training exercise is appalling to me.

The third accident that is something hard to avoid and even harder to prevent is accidents due to poor health.  Hunting can be a very strenuous task.  Hunters often have to drag 200 lbs animals miles back to the road through marsh, thickets, hills, and mountains. Over exertion, fatigue, dehydration, heat stroke, pulled muscles, and even heart attacks can often be the results. Although i realize that these injuries cannot be blamed on a lack of safety training, I still see many ways in which the Hunters Safety Course could better prepare or inform hunters of the dangers that we are not always aware of.

As hunters we need to take responsibility for our own actions and do out part to prevent these accidents from happening.  Take the necessary steps, get proper training and safety equipment to prevent yourself from becoming one of these statistics.  The first three of the seven common accidents are all I have time for today but i will wrap up next week with the final four.

Until then,

Lane

The Silent Killer of Hunters Blog #3

Hello and welcome back,

Another week has passed into the early stages of deer hunting season and another local story caught my attention.  When people hear about hunting accidents, they almost exclusively think about someone accidentally being shot by a hunter.  We can thank Dick Cheney for that one.  However, this is an example of one type of accident that occurs entirely too often for how easy it is to avoid.  How many times have you had to tell your children to buckle up in the car?  I know what you’re about to say.  “Too many to count.”  It’s just something about being young, I would say it’s the innocence.  They don’t realize what could happen at any given moment.

Same thing goes for hunting.  I never wore a safety harness when I hunted up until last fall.  I drove to our farm early one morning, ready to get out in the woods.  It had rained the night before and with the dew on the ground, everything was soaked.  I went out to my stand, and more carefully than i ever had before, I climbed the ladder, sat down, and waited.  It wasn’t but an hour or two after that, i heard a faint rumbling. As each minute passed the rumbling got louder and louder until the noise was too loud to ignore.  I turned backwards to see what was going on and what I saw then, is an image I doubt I’ll ever forget.  Just behind me, about a quarter mile away, a rescue helicopter was landing in our field.  My great uncle, who was 65 at the time, had slipped and fallen 20+ ft. from his stand and had to be medevaced to the hospital.

One thing that bothers me now looking back, is that up until that day. I had no idea how to even work a harness.  I actually had to have a friend show me how to work it later that day. I never remembered learning about it while taking Hunter’s Safety and my friend from last weeks interview confirmed this. I feel now that not only should every young hunter learn how to properly use a tree stand with all of its safety components but that Hunter’s Safety Course should put a severe emphasis on it.

A recent survey showed that 33% of all hunters will at some point fall from a tree stand with half of those falls happening while the hunter is actually hunting (not climbing or descending the ladder). As a stubborn teenager, it took this personal experience to make me realize how important safety harnesses are and with these outrageous numbers, I don’t see how this is even debatable.  Had my Great Uncle not thrown his weapon away from the tree as he was falling, he may not have made it to tell his story.

Last thing for this week is a helpful video that shows a good technique for all you hunters or parents of hunters who want  you or your kids to be safe this hunting season.  Feel free to leave a comment. Thanks, and I’ll see you next week.

Lane

The Interview Blog #2

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Me again,

I had a long week. By Friday afternoon i was exhausted mentally and physically so when I finally got back home, I grabbed my bow and headed out to the woods.  I’ve been following this buck (pictured above) on camera for several weeks now so i was hopeful but he didn’t show.  I did watch a doe and two fawns graze in the pasture for a while but honestly I was just happy to get out there and relax.

Last week I finished by talking about my sister and a family friend who took the hunters safety course.  Today I want to get into exactly what made me uneasy.  In an informal interview with the family friend, who is 20 years old but wished to remain anonymous, I got firsthand account of what occurred during the four day course.  I started the interview by asking “After taking the Hunters Safety Course, do you now feel properly educated to safely and legally hunt on your own?”  The response I got was quick, “No.”  Let that sink in for a moment.  The state of Maryland feels like it did its job however, my friend felt inadequately prepared.  Shocked is an understatement of what I felt at that moment.

As we got more in depth into the interview, I asked what was the main reason for feeling unprepared.  Again, the response was alarming.  My friend said that the instructors, particularly with the written test portion, almost coaxed the students to the correct answers.  So not only did my friend not feel confident with the material but when that became apparent, they gave my sister and friend the answers.  When they told me this story, I remembered almost the exact situation happened to me when I took the course.  I guess I can understand why the instructors would want the students to pass on the first try.  The students don’t want to retake the course, however if a better understanding of the material is what it takes to prevent an accident, then it is well worth it to retake the course.

To finish the interview I asked my friend to give me some of the hardest parts of the test.  One thing the instructors required the students to do was to carry a fake gun during the first day of the outdoor training.  They had to carry the weapon for the duration of the training and were to take note of where they would end up pointing it.  My friend said, on multiple occasions without even realizing, the weapon would be aimed at another person and once my friend even hit my sister with the fake gun. It seems simple to me to watch where you are pointing the gun but to someone with little experience and apparently the majority of hunters involved in accidents, it is not so simple.  According to the International Hunter Education Association, roughly 65% of the self reported hunting accidents in 2007 were a direct result of mishandling or careless use of a firearm. This statistic scares me.

Overall, I learned a lot from my first interview and through some preliminary research.  I’m glad you’ve decided to embark on this journey with me and I look forward to sharing my findings with you.

Until next week,

Lane

Hunter’s Safety: A Nationwide Epidemic Blog #1

My name is Lane Price and I am a lifelong outdoors lover, including camping, hiking, fishing, but most importantly hunting.  I have been hunting for roughly 12 years now and I plan on continuing to hunt for all of the foreseeable future.  I know how hunting can bring friends and family closer and the moments I spent with my dad in the blind will always have a place in my heart.  Hunting is an adventure i think everyone should have the pleasure of experiencing at some point. Since this is near and dear to me, I love to see others who grow an appreciation for the outdoors and hunting, however, it breaks my heart to hear the tragic stories of accidents that happen to inexperienced hunters that could have been avoided with the proper safety knowledge.

I’ll start by saying that there are thousands of hunting accidents each year in continental North America with roughly 1000 of those accidents involving a hunter shooting another person and roughly 100 of those resulting in death.  I find this both heart-wrenching and atrocious.  I’ll also say that Maryland Department of Natural Resources puts on a mandatory Hunters Safety Course for anyone who wishes to buy a hunting license.  I took this course as a young child, somewhere around the age of 10, from what i can remember about the course, there were two days of lecture in a classroom, and then two days of outdoor setting training where everyone was required to shoot a gun on the final day as part of the test. I enjoyed the course and I think I learned many valuable lessons that have kept me extra cautious while hunting.  For the next ten years I believed i was adequately equipped with the knowledge i needed to keep me and my hunting partners safe.

Last month, my youngest sister and a family friend decided that they were ready for the course so we signed them up.  At the time they were unaware, but the stories they told me from their few days at the course made me extremely uneasy.  Over the next several weeks, I want to get in depth into how today’s youth are being trained when it comes to safety in the outdoors and how the overall attitudes of the instructors just may a contributing factor into an epidemic sweeping the country.

Until next week,

Lane