It's heartbreaking to report that North Carolina is grappling with a disturbing surge in hunting-related mishaps, leaving families torn apart and entire communities grieving. The state's Wildlife Resources Commission has sent out an urgent alert about the distressing rise in injuries and deaths resulting from these accidents, particularly those involving guns.
The current hunting season has been especially brutal for the Tar Heel State - five lives have been abruptly snatched away due to gun-involved hunting accidents. This surpasses by far the total death count of previous three seasons combined which saw just one unfortunate fatality between 2020-22.
The bleak numbers show that 2023 has been scarred by as many as 14 tragic incidents linked to hunting, alarmingly ten of them were caused by firearms according to data released by the agency.
A seriously tragic event went down last October when a dude from Fayetteville, just 34 years old, tragically died in a hunting accident up Northampton County. As if that wasn't heavy enough to bear, another soul was robbed of their life the following month during another hunting mishap over at Burke County. This left families and buddies wrestling with an ocean of gut-wrenching sorrow.
"Listen up guys," said Captain Branden Jones from NCWRC's Law Enforcement Division laying it out straight "our latest stats for this season show that half the time someone brings a firearm into play while hunting - boom! It ends in fatality." He hammered home how severe this whole scenario is turning out to be.
North Carolina boasts one of the highest numbers of licensed hunters in the nation, with a staggering 603,995 enthusiasts, according to the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA).
Most of these tragic incidents stem from hunters failing to properly identify their target, mistaking another hunter for game. Additionally, careless mishandling of firearms has played a significant role in these heart-wrenching accidents.
In response to this alarming trend, NC Wildlife has offered crucial safety tips to prevent further tragedies:
- Positively identify your target before pulling the trigger.
- Always point a firearm in a safe direction.
- Treat every firearm as if it were loaded and never assume it's unloaded.
- Use binoculars, rather than a rifle scope, to identify the target.
- Keep your finger out of the trigger guard and off the trigger until ready to shoot.
- Be absolutely sure of the target and ensure there are no houses, vehicles, power lines, livestock, or people in front of or behind it.
- Avoid the use of alcohol and drugs as they may affect judgment when hunting.
- Comply with blaze orange laws as required.
- "Let someone know your whereabouts and approximate return time," urged Jones. "We want everyone participating in hunting activities to keep safety as their number one priority and continue to make memories for many years to come."
As we confront this heartrending surge in hunting accidents, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families who have lost their loved ones in these tragic incidents. Let us unite as a community to support and comfort those affected by these heart-wrenching losses. It is imperative that we come together to ensure that safety remains the cornerstone of all hunting activities, preventing further sorrow in the future.
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission continues to offer hunter education certification courses, both in-person and online, as part of their commitment to promoting safety in hunting.