DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos recently announced that the 2019 hunting season in New York was the safest on record.
There were 12 Hunting Related Shooting Incidents (HRSIs) last year; seven were two-party incidents involving the discharge of a firearm and five were self-inflicted. One case involved a hunter shooting a member of his hunting party that tragically resulted in a fatality.
The statement also noted there were seven injuries resulting from falls from tree stands which are not included in the annual tally.
DEC went on to declare, “All of these incidents could have been prevented if hunting safety rules had been followed. The one fatal incident was caused by a failure to positively identify the target.”
DEC Police uniformed Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) and Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigators, (BECI) work closely with state and local police to thoroughly investigate all HRSIs. Their investigations concluded that of the seven two-party incidents involving firearms, four of the victims were not wearing hunter orange.
While there is never an excuse for discharging a firearm before positively identifying your target as legal game beyond ALL doubt, the fact remains wearing hunter orange would prevent most two-shooter hunting incidents. It’s been widely purported you are 37 times safer if you wear hunter orange when hunting.
Given the clear increased safety benefits of wearing orange while hunting, it is startling that NY is one of the few states where it is not required. Some hunters oppose mandating it, others support regulations requiring wearing hunter orange in certain firearms seasons.
In my opinion, faced with the overwhelming evidence of increased safety when wearing hunter orange, DEC should take the initiative and adopt reasonable regulations requiring orange to be worn when hunting big or small game with a firearm with the following notable exceptions; while hunting wild turkey, waterfowl, and while hunting with a bow or crossbow.
That being said, DEC’s Sportsmen Education Program and its army of volunteer hunter safety instructors have much too be proud of with 2019’s stellar hunter safety record.
“Nearly 550,000 New Yorkers and visitors enjoy the sport of hunting each year and the declining number of hunting incidents confirms that today’s generation of hunters are the most safety conscious yet,” Commissioner Seggos said.
“Thanks to the efforts of DEC staff and volunteer hunter education program instructors that teach close to 40,000 students each year, hunting has continued to be a safe and enjoyable activity in New York State.”
To give perspective as to how far we have come in increasing hunter safety in NY, you have to look back more than 50 years. According to the DEC, “In 1966, 166 (HRSI) incidents were recorded, 13 of which were fatal.
In 2019, 12 incidents were recorded, one of which was fatal. While the number of hunters is declining overall, the hunting incident rate (incidents per 100,000 hunters) is falling even faster. Since the 1960s, the number of hunters in New York has declined about 20 percent, while the incident rate has declined almost 80 percent.
The current five-year average is 1.8 incidents per 100,000 hunters, compared to 19 per 100,000 hunters in the 1960s.”
DEC has an exemplary sportsman education program. It trains and certifies volunteer instructors who teach safe, responsible, and ethical hunting and trapping practices and the important role of hunters and trappers in wildlife conservation.
This has produced the current, “…extremely safety-conscious generation of hunters and trappers ... All first-time hunters, bowhunters, and trappers must successfully complete a hunter or trapper safety course and pass the final exam before being eligible to purchase a hunting or trapping license. All courses are offered free of charge.”
While hunting in NY is safer than ever, DEC encourages hunters to remember that every hunting-related shooting incident is preventable.
Many, if not all of these incidents, could have been prevented if the people involved had followed the primary rules of hunter safety:
Treat every firearm as if it were loaded;
Control the muzzle, keep it pointed in a safe direction;
Identify your target and what lies beyond;
Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire; and
Wear hunter orange or pink.
More information, including the 2019 Hunting Safety Statistics and the 2019 Tree Stand Safety Statistics, is available on DEC’s website.
Happy Hunting, Fishing and Trapping until next time.
News and Notes
The Catskill Mountain F&G Club in conjunction with the Stoney Clove F&G Club are Holding their Annual Youth Ice Fishing Derby at Tannersville Lake on February 15, 2020
This event is scheduled for Saturday, February 15 at Tannersville Lake, ice conditions permitting.
Sign-in begins at 9 a.m. with youth fishing from 10 a.m.-noon. There will be prizes for all kids attending, plus refreshments will be available. For more information call Bob Monteleone at 518-488-0240.
Canaan Conservation Club 21st Annual Hardwater Fishing Derby – February 15
This event will take place, ice conditions permitting, on February 15 from 6 a.m.-1 p.m. at Queechy Lake, Canaan, NY. Register online at https://canaanconservationclub.weebly.com/ or, in-person at 6 a.m. on the day of the event at Adams Point Beach.
Entry fee for adults 16 and over is $15.00 and $5.00 for kids 15 and under. There are cash prizes for largest trout, perch, pickerel, and crappie with a gas-powered auger standing in for the grand prize. Other prizes include hand augers, tip-ups and jigging poles.
For more information contact Julia Horst at 518-567-4302 or by email at email@example.com
Greene County Chapter Ducks Unlimited Annual Dinner/Auction March 21
Mark your calendars for this event which will be held at Anthony’s Banquet Hall in Leeds on Saturday, March 21st. Doors open at 5:30 pm with dinner at 7:00. There will be a live as well as a silent auction after dinner with plenty of gun giveaways and other prizes.
Tickets are available online; just search using key words, “Greene County NY Ducks Unlimited Banquet.” For further information, call Dana Hanusik at 518-943-2729, Jeff Holiday at 518-943-1986, or Bob Sager at 518-731-6353.
Shooters Sports in Valatie Fur Buyer/Pistol Permit Class Schedule
Ron Alund will be at Shooters Sports in Valatie buying fur at the store on March 14th and April 11th 2020 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Chris Nastke said pistol permit classes are held at the store with instructor Lew Hatch every third Saturday of the month from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Call the store at 518-758-1488 for more information on how to sign up.
Remember to report poaching violations by calling 1-844-DEC-ECOS.
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