Last month the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced that 2014 marked the safest year ever for hunters. For the first time in the state’s history, there were no fatal incidents and only 10 injuries recorded across all of 2014’s hunting seasons. Accidents in the field have become remarkably rare in the past few years, and officials are crediting the decrease of injuries to state-wide hunter education programs.

“What makes 2014 the safest on record is that for the first time we had no fatalities,” said Sgt. Tom Wanless of the DNR’s Recreational Safety, Education and Enforcement Section. “Michigan’s hunter education program, and the dedicated volunteer instructors who are the backbone of it, is a big reason we have been experiencing a low number of hunting incidents.”

Of the 10 incidents that were record in 2014, officials said that four involved small game hunters, two were during the firearm deer season, two separate incidents during early and late antlerless season, and two involved waterfowl hunters. Many of the accidents were caused by careless handling of firearms, such as when one hunter grabbed for her firearm and shot herself in the foot, while others were due people not being aware of their surroundings. Only one incident was caused by faulty equipment, which involved an errant piece of brass from a shotgun shell that injured a Macomb County man.

More than 729,000 hunting licenses were sold in Michigan last year, which meant that only a minuscule 0.001 percent of license holders were injured while hunting. It was much different back in 1940, when Michigan officials first started keeping track of hunter injuries and fatalities. In that year, the deadly Armistice Day Blizzard took the lives of dozens of underprepared duck hunters and stranded several hundred more out in the cold. Michigan and nearby other states have since created comprehensive hunter-education programs to prevent such disasters. As a result, the Wolverine State is now one of the safest in the country for hunters.

Image courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service.

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