Iowa’s string of relatively safe hunting seasons continues. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is reporting 2013 matched a record low of 17 hunting-related incidents, with no fatalities, 11 injuries and six cases of property damage. DNR safety education coordinator Megan Wisecup says the 17-incident year tied 2008, though there was a gun related death in ’08.
Since 1983, would be hunters in Iowa have been required to take safety courses. “With hunter education becoming mandatory…that’s definitely helped decrease the number of fatalities we’re seeing,” Wisecup said. Back in the 1960s, Iowa recorded around 20 hunting-related fatalities every year.
There’s now been a decade long run of hunting seasons with very few deadly accidents and Wisecup credits not only the safety courses, but legislative changes. “Such as requiring more blaze orange when you’re upland game hunting or when deer hunting with firearms, increasing your visibility,” Wisecup said. Of the 11 injuries reported last year, seven were self-inflicted incidents.
Hunters should revisit basic firearm handling rules every year, according to Wisecup. “A lot of the hunters who are getting injured have several years of experience hunting,” Wisecup said. “We’re trying to remind them to brush up on safe firearm handling, such as keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and taking extra time to unload their firearem before they cross an obstacle, such as a fence. They should also unload their firearm before they get in their vehicle, instead of trying to do it inside.”
The DNR reports just over 11,500 students were certified in hunter safety classes around the state last year.