The U.S. has 15.2 million hunting license holders, making it one of the world's most popular recreational activities. With the number of hunting licenses increasing annually, hunting accidents are inevitable.
The possibility of getting hurt or killed during a hunt is almost always present. Recently, a 15-year-old was killed after his firearm went off while hunting.
Hunting is a great outdoor activity, but the risk of injury is inevitable. Before you go out into the wild and hunt, look at these numbers!
- 300 to 500 hunters die in tree stand accidents in the United States.
- Hunting is the second-most safe activity on the list of 28 sporting activities.
- Fewer than 100 hunters die yearly from firearm accidents.
- Unintentional firearm fatalities in the U.S. dropped by 50.5% between 1997 and 2017.
- 117 patients fell from tree stands between 1999 and 2013, most of whom suffered spinal fractures.
- Crossbow-related accidents only account for 0.78% of all types of hunting accidents.
- There are 7 hunting fatalities in France for 2 consecutive years.
- South Africa experienced 10 fatal episodes from 1990 to 2000.
- Only 4 hunting-related deaths were recorded in Spain for 5 years.
- There are 15.2 Million hunting license holders in the United States, According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
How Many Hunting Accidents Happen Yearly?
The yearly fatalities show severe risks and potential dangers associated with hunting. For this reason, hunters should be reminded of the safety measures they should take while engaging in this outdoor activity.
Fortunately, many countries, including the U.S., have seen decreases in hunting accident rates due to improved safety measures in recent years. This is reflected in the following statistics.
Common Types of Hunting Accident Statistics
There are different types of hunting accidents. Most of these involve and include the following:
- Firearm shooting accidents and malfunction
- Tree-stand accidents
- Bow and arrow accidents
- Animal attacks.
You might think hunting accidents are due to firearms because they are dangerous, but most of them don't happen as expected. Let's dig into the stats and find out.
1. Less than 100 hunters die in firearm accidents annually in the US.
According to the NSSF, unintentional firearm fatalities in 2018 were only 0.1 per 100,000 people. Considering the number of hunters in the U.S., this shows that deaths in hunting are low. However, this also shows the potential dangers of hunting that could lead to death.
Accidental firearm discharge is one of the causes of this type of accident. Often, hunters mistreat their guns, causing them to malfunction and unintentionally hurting themselves. Others would mistakenly shoot a fellow hunter or even a non-hunter, thinking it is the target animal, which causes not only firearm injuries but sometimes death.
2. An average of 17.6 firearm shooting accidents in New York from 2012 to 2021 involved big and small game hunting.
The accidents are quite low due to the government’s enforcement of safety measures. Hunter education is also emphasized among hunters, which also includes safety protocols.
3. Using firearms in small game hunting causes 11.8 injuries per 100,000 hunters.
Deer hunting, on the other hand, causes 24.8 injuries per 100,000. This statistic emphasizes the importance of extra precautions when hunting deer, as the injury risk is more than double that of hunting small game.
4. From 1993 to 2008, firearm-related incidents occur in only 9 per 1 million hunting days.
This statistic shows that using firearms in hunting does not immediately result in an accident. As long as hunters take safety precautions seriously, they can avoid unfortunate events.
5. Crossbow-related accidents only account for 0.78% of all types of hunting accidents.
(Deer Hunting Guide)
Bow and arrow hunting accidents are less common than gun, rifle, and other firearms accidents. The IHEA hunting incident database contains 111 crossbow incidents. Crossbow injuries account for 0.78% of all entries, including accidents involving firearms and tree stands.
6. Every year 300-500 hunters die in tree-stand accidents in the U.S.
(Deer Hunting Guide)
6,000 hunters are also injured from falls in a tree stand in the U.S., and almost 80% of all falls occur while the hunter ascends or descends the tree stand. The lack of a safety harness, which attaches to the tree and prevents the hunter from falling if the stand fails, is one of the leading causes of tree stand deaths.
While hunters should be mindful of firearm safety, tree stands also pose the greatest danger, which they should be aware of. Hunters commonly use tree stands to gain a vantage point. Hunters would climb up or even camp out midway up a tree to catch animals crossing below it.
7. Out of the 117 hunters that fell from tree stands between 1999 and 2013, 5 of them suffered paralysis.
Most tree stand-related injuries occur while climbing into and out of the stands. Many of these falls result in a severe or non-serious injury but falls from an elevated position can have fatal consequences and may even cause death.
8. 95% of tree stand injuries are due to hunters not wearing full-body harnesses.
Wearing safety gear is essential in hunting. This will protect you from harm or lessen the risk of injury if any mishap happens. Common causes of tree fall injuries need more materials and personal awareness towards good hunting and climbing equipment.
Hunting Accident Fatalities Statistics
All hunting injuries and deaths are declining, with less than 1,000 incidents occurring yearly across all 50 states. There were less than 300 total incidents and 25 fatalities in 2007.
This means that fatalities in hunting-related accidents are declining in the different states as the years go by. This could be because shooters are becoming more aware of safety and getting an education.
The following data are evidence of the said decline.
9. After billiards, hunting is the second-most safe activity of the 28 sporting activities.
Hunting is considered a sporting activity in the U.S. Unlike football, basketball, and tennis; hunting poses lesser risks. This is because hunting is not a close-contact sport, unlike sports.
10. The number of injuries per 100,000 participants for hunting in the US is 27.
The NSSF lists the injuries per 100,000 participants in the following games:
- Football: 4,013
- Basketball: 1,749
- Skateboarding: 1,506
- Soccer: 1,443
- Bicycle riding: 1,120
- Hunting: 27
Football injuries are 149 times more likely than hunting injuries. The chances of being hurt in hunting are lesser because it is not an aggressive and competitive sport.
11. The IHEA-USA compiled data from 2002 to 2007 showing fewer than 100 yearly fatalities.
Considering millions of hunter license holders in the U.S., 100 fatalities out of millions can be regarded as few. Despite the low numbers, hunters should always be on the safe side since lives are too valuable to lose in such situations.
12. Unintentional firearm fatalities dropped by 50.5% between 1997 and 2017.
When comparing firearm fatalities to fire, poisoning, motor vehicles, and other causes, unintentional firearm fatalities account for only 0.3% of all accidental deaths in the United States over a two-decade period. Furthermore, the number of unintentional fatalities using firearms, bows, and crossbows is significantly lower.
13. The "odds of dying from" a firearm discharge are 1 in 6,905.
(National Safety Council)
The chances of dying from a firearm discharge increased in 2017. However, it should be noted that most accidental firearm deaths do not involve hunters. The NSC reports show that 60% of all gun-related deaths in 2017 were suicides, and 37% were homicides unrelated to hunting.
Hunting Accident Per Country Statistics
The hunting activity is not exclusive to the United States. Across the world, hunting is also a sporting and recreational activity many people enjoy. Along with it, different hunting accidents also happen in other parts of the globe.
Here is a short list of countries with relevant data about hunting accident statistics.
14. Australia accounts for 25 firearm hunting accidents and fatalities.
25 firearm-related deaths were investigated between 2000 and 2010. Some occurred during hunting, while others occurred while traveling in connection with hunting.
15. In 25 years, Sweden has recorded 48 fatalities from unintentional firearm accidents.
From 1983 to 2008, 48 unintentional firearm deaths occurred. The percentage of casualties for each cause is as follows:
- 41% for having mistakenly identified as moose during moose hunting seasons
- 31% during small game hunting
- 5% for improper handling of a firearm
16. New Zealand tallies 12,628 hunting accident injuries in 14 years.
(New Zealand Mountain Safety Council)
From 2007 to 2016, 41 hunting-related fatalities were reported. Over five years, 582 hunters went missing and were rescued. From 2004 to 2016, falling was the most common type of injury, accounting for 33.7% of all hunting-related accidents.
17. Hunting accidents in France account for only 7 fatalities for two consecutive years.
The number of fatal hunting accidents in France decreased from 39 to 11 between 1999 and 2020. The number of hunting accidents in France fell by 27% in 2016-2017. With 7 reported deaths, the 2018 and 2019 hunting seasons were the least deadly of the period.
18. 34 hunting-related deaths were recorded in Spain for 5 years.
Shooting hunting accidents killed 34 people in Spain between 2010 and 2015. For 5 years, this number of fatalities has been considered low but should not be taken for granted.
19. South Africa experienced 10 fatal episodes within 10 years, from 1990 to 2000.
This shows that South Africa has the least hunting-related fatalities accounting for an average of 1 per year, despite the connotation as a popular hunting area. This is due to the restrictions against wild animal hunting and prohibitions from hunting in state-protected areas.
20. In 2020, Finland reported only 9 hunting accidents, 3 of which resulted in fatalities.
3 deaths in a year show the ability of the hunters to protect themselves from the dangers of hunting. However, these deaths are also reminders that hunting without regard to preventive measures and discipline can be deadly.
The Bottom Line
The figures are enough indication that hunting-related injuries and fatalities are decreasing. However, statistics will differ from one source to the next because of a significant lack of usable, precise, and up-to-date statistics. This only emphasizes the need for additional research and studies into hunting-related accidents and fatalities.
No matter how high or low the numbers tell us, one life lost is too many. Thus, hunters should be encouraged to take a formal hunter education and give importance to hunting safety and preventive measures, as well as first-aid treatment in case mishaps happens wherever they may be.