Hunting Accidents are No Joke

February 18, 2009 by  

By PJ Maguire


Always keep safety in your mind while hunting

Always keep safety in your mind while hunting

Honestly I have wanted to write this column since the Cheney quail-hunting incident. Several things have made me delay it. One, I needed to collect my thoughts about exactly what I wanted to say. Two, I wanted the media coverage of the event to blow over.

Accidents happen. I do not care who you are. As hunters we try to be safe in the field because there are many factors that can make hunting dangerous. I know there are many hunters out there that think that nothing will ever happen to them but let’s face it, when mixing firearms in a wide variety of scenarios something is bound to happen eventually.

I encourage my fellow hunters to think of hunting accidents not as a matter of if one will happen, but when one will happen. When I was younger in college, I used to hunt 3 to 4 days a week. I never imagined that anything bad could happen while I was hunting. It must be the ignorance of our youth that had me in this mindset, and ignorance is bliss.

In the fall of 2003, I hunted with my good friend’s family in Northern Iowa. Everyone I was with was a responsible hunter. Our hunting party was walking some steep drainage ditches when an accident happened. I was posting at the end of a ditch with my friend’s younger brother when we saw the family’s minivan flying across a CRP field.

Take all the necessary precautions and know what to do if an accident happens

Take all the necessary precautions and know what to do if an accident happens

We were both stunned and I immediately got a lump in my throat. We both knew immediately that something bad had happened. We were left waiting anxiously until my friend came rushing up in his pick-up. He hurriedly explained his cousin had been accidentally shot, and was being rushed to the hospital. We hopped in the truck and took off to follow the van.

We went through all kinds of emotions as we made our way into town. My friend’s young brother rode between us in the cab. He was the calmest one in the truck.

I don’t know if you have ever had to fill out an accident report for a Warden, or if you have ever seen an emergency helicopter take off with a loved one. I guarantee that it nothing to laugh about. I stood with my friend and his family as his cousin flew to Rochester in silence.

My friend’s cousin still has his life, and even though he never made a full recovery, he still hunts. I admire him for that. I have not seen him since the accident, but I think of him often.

Firearms make hunting dangerous for obvious reasons, but many more things can go wrong while pursuing game. Trucks can get stuck, hunters may become lost, boats tip, and waders occasionally get filled with water. Statistics show you are much more likely to have a heart attack while hunting than to be shot. Life is full of risks you take with responsibility and maturity. Accidents will happen. A responsible hunter prepares for them.

For the remainder of the hunting seasons for years to come, lets all make a conscious effort to have a plan in case of emergency.

For anyone who made, repeated, or laughed at a Dick Cheney hunting joke, I am ashamed of you. If only you knew the pain that Mr. Cheney, his victim and their families must have felt. Personally, I got “goose bumps” in the days following the Cheney incident when the media played it like a joke.

I am disappointed that none of my peers in the outdoor writing community brought this travesty to the public’s attention. I would like all of you as hunters, family members, and friends to stop and ponder the idea of hunting accidents being a joke…are you still laughing?


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