2005 Hunting Fatalities Match Historic Lows

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AUSTIN, Texas — Hunting fatalities dropped to just two in 2005, down from four the previous year, and matched all-time lows in 1996 and 2002. Only 2004 had fewer total hunting accidents, 29, compared to last year’s total of 30.

“We like to say that ‘hunting is safe and getting safer,’ and it really is,” said Steve Hall, education director for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

The state’s worst year on record for hunting accidents was 1968, when 105 accidents were reported, including 37 fatalities.

For the decade of 1966-1975, TPWD recorded one hunting accident per 10,858 hunting licenses issued. The incidence of hunting accidents has gradually fallen, until — in the last decade — only 1 hunter per 26,250 licenses was involved in a hunting accident.

In the fall of 1988, hunter education in Texas became mandatory for anyone born on or after Sept. 2, 1971.

“We’re still on a trend that is taking us downward,” Hall said. “Whether we bump it up next year or not, the 10—year trend is what I look at, and it’s coming down. Mandatory hunter education is really having an impact.”

In 2005, more than 3,000 volunteer hunter education instructors trained more than 30,000 hunters across the state.

Hall said even hunters who are not required to take the education course are more aware of basic safety principles than before.

“It’s things like the ‘10 Commandments of Shooting Safety,’ the very basic safety principles that are promoted a whole lot more now than 30 or even 20 years ago,” Hall said. “Highlighting the accidents is an education in and of itself.”

The two hunting fatalities of 2005 included a Mason County deer hunter who accidentally discharged his rifle into his own chest, and a Limestone County hog hunter whose shot ricocheted and resulted in shrapnel hitting a child in his truck.

According to Hall, both accidents were preventable if the hunters had only followed some very basic safety principles like those taught in the hunter education courses.

“You know you’re not going to stop accidents altogether,” he said. “But you’re going to help people build knowledge and skills to avoid accidents.”

The full report for 2005 is available on the TPWD web site.

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