As you are already well aware, the very thought of the winter season is typically greeted with a chorus of boos and sighs by most people here in Wisconsin. However, there are a select percentage of people -- we'll call them outdoor enthusiasts -- who simply can't wait for the leaves to fall and the snow to start.
That's because the cold weather means these outdoor enthusiasts will finally have the chance to participate in their favorite hobbies from ice fishing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing to skiing, hockey and, of course, deer hunting.
While all of these wintertime activities present their own set of risks, it's deer hunting that can prove to be especially dangerous, presenting an elevated risk of serious personal injuries and even wrongful death.
To illustrate, consider that even though the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has indicated that 2012 was the safest hunting season of the past decade, there were still a significant number of hunting accidents last year -- 79 percent of which could be traced back to adult hunters.
Here, the majority of these hunting accidents were caused by such simple mistakes as hunters failing to fully identify the target, shooting outside their range of sight or swinging their rifles to shoot game.
In recognition of the importance of safe hunting, the DNR has launched the "Safe Hunting is No Accident" campaign, outlining four basic safety rules for all hunters using rifles.
- Assume that every gun is loaded
- Take care to point a gun in a safe direction
- Know your surroundings, including the location of your hunting party
- Keep your trigger finger situated outside of the trigger guard until ready to shoot
Safety experts also advise hunters to wear the necessary amount of blaze orange, avoid alcohol consumption, keep a cell phone at the ready and check the weather before heading out.
Interestingly, they also advise hunters using tree stands to exercise extreme caution, always carefully inspecting it beforehand and wearing a safety harness/belt. While it may not seem like tree stands are very dangerous, consider that national statistics show that one out of every three hunting accidents involves a tree stand, and that victims routinely suffer devastating brain damage, neck trauma and/or spinal cord injuries.
If you have suffered serious personal injuries or lost a family member because of the negligence of another, consider learning more about your options for securing justice.
Source: The Marshfield News Herald, "Safe deer hunting is no accident," Terry Nichols, Nov. 1, 2013