Analysis Of Hunting Accidents In Virginia

Using hunting accident report forms filled out by Virginia game wardens from July 1961 to June 1977, we analyzed the conditions related to 972 hunting casualties. Virginia statistics are compared with data for the United States for 1970. All data were reported on National Rifle Association (NRA) Uniform Hunter Casualty Report forms. Approximately half Of the accidents in Virginia were caused by judgment errors. About 20% involved lack of skill. Fifteen percent occurred when safety rules and state laws were violated. Approximately' 3% were due to defective firearms. National accident statistics were roughly equivalent to Virginia statistics. In Virginia, 47% of the accidents occurred when hunters sought big game, primarily whitetail deer. However, Virginia hunters spent 28% of their time big game hunting. The preponderance of accidents involved people under 25, years of age and having less than 5 years experience. Although 8% of hunters ar,e women, this sex accounted for less than 2% of the accidents. Approximately 10% of people involved in hunting accidents in Virginia were not licensed. Only 1% of the shooters who caused accidents admitted to the game warden that they were intoxicated or on drugs, however we expect that this is an underestimate due to reporting bais. Accident rates ~ere higher through the middle of the day than during early morning, evening and night. For 410 accidents, 39% occurred in dense cover, 43% in moderate cover and 19% in open fields. Over 75% of casualties due to poor judgment occurred at distances from II to 100 yards. About 70% of accidents involved shotguns and 24% involved rifles. Graduates of hunter education courses caused significantly fewer accidents with shotguns than did untrained hunters. Under dim light conditions 2.2% of 89 victims were wearing bright color,ed hunting clothes when injured. Under the same conditions, 11.5% of 286 victims were wearing non-bright clothing when injured. Graduates of hunter education courses were proportionately less likely to commit jUdgment errors than untrained hunters. Several recommendations for improving the NRA Uniform Hunter Casualty Report form were made. It was concluded that the accident data should be integrated into hunter education courses to add realism and stimulate defensive attitudes. Graduates should know and adjust to the risks of sport hunting.

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