Sunday, November 18, 2007
Five hunting fatalities (so far) offer a chilling reminder
By Gary Garth
Special to The Courier-Journal
Law enforcement officials for the Kentucky Department of Fish and
Wildlife Resources reported four hunting-related accidents last week,
including three fatalities, raising the number of hunting deaths since
September to five.
"We usually average about two hunting-related fatalities a year,"
Lt. Mike Fields said.
He said the recent accidents are under investigation, but one in
Pulaski County involved the accidental discharge of a gun by a deer
hunter. In a Henry County death, a deer hunter was mistaken for game
and shot by a companion.
A similar fatality last month involved two squirrel hunters. A deer
hunter died last month when his muzzleloader accidentally discharged.
The third fatality last week resulted from a tree-stand accident
and is under investigation. Bill Balda, supervisor for the Fish and
Wildlife Department's hunter-education program, said tree stands
account for 20-25 percent of all deer-hunting accidents. One in four
stand-related accidents is fatal.
"It takes extra effort to be safe going up into a tree stand,"
Balda said. "You need to be tied off going up, tied off while you're
in it and tied off when you're coming down."
In the wake of last week's string of accidents, enforcement
officials are urging hunters to adhere to their safety training.
"It's a matter of going back to the basics," Sgt. John Anderson
said. "Of all the incidents I've heard about, they all could have been
avoided by following the basic safety rules."
Always keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction.
Keep the gun unloaded until you are ready to shoot.
Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
Know your target. Do not shoot at a sound or movement.
Know what is beyond your target.
Do not mix hunting or shooting with alcohol or drugs. Prescription
medications that warn against operating machinery shouldn't be used
when handling a firearm.
State law requires that deer and elk gun hunters wear hunter-orange
clothing that is visible from all sides on the head, back and chest.
State law also requires that an adult accompany anyone 15 or
younger who is hunting deer, elk or turkey with a firearm. The adult
must remain in a position to take immediate control of the youth's
gun. One adult may accompany up to two young hunters.
An adult also must accompany any child 11 or younger who's hunting
for any species with any equipment if that youngster hasn't passed a
"All too often what we'll see is an adult taking a child hunting,
but the adult wants to hunt himself, so he takes up a position within
sight but some distance away," Anderson said. "When hunting with a
child, the child has to be the priority."
Successful completion of a hunter-education course is required for
anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1975, except those under 12 and
hunters who are license-exempt.
The Fish and Wildlife Department offers a one-time exemption that
allows the holder to hunt for one year without an education card.
However, anyone who uses an exemption permit must be accompanied by an
adult who meets Kentucky's hunter-education law.
The exemption permit costs $5 and is available at www.fw.ky.gov.
Deer harvest up from 2006
Kentucky hunters reported bagging 17,791 deer on the opening day of
the modern firearm season, surpassing the 2006 first-day total by more
In the wake of this year's statewide outbreak of epizootic
hemorrhagic disease, which killed an unknown number of deer, Fish and
Wildlife officials were particularly interested in the opening-weekend
kill. That two-day total was 30,191, about 1,400 more than last year.
"We were watching last weekend's harvest very closely," said Tina
Brunjes, the state's deer and elk program coordinator. "We had a solid
opening-weekend harvest that is right on our average. Our deer herd
remains strong and healthy."
Gun season will end tomorrow in zones 3 and 4 and Nov. 25 in zones
1 and 2.