The most Common Hunting Accidents: Causes and Preventive Measures

safety harness (most common hunting accidents and how to prevent them)

Hunting accidents are more common than many of us think. So, most people are not careful enough to avoid these accidents. As a result, they get themselves in situations that they regret for the rest of their lives. We would like to give you a little heads up by pointing out the most common forms of accidents that happen while hunting. So you can take measures to prevent them.

Common causes and preventive measures of hunting accidents:

Hunting from tree stand (most common hunting accidents)

Hunting from tree stand

Tree Stand Accidents

When we hear the term “hunting accidents”, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Gunshots, animal attacks, or mechanical failures?

But, surprisingly, the most common hunting accidents are the tree stand accidents. Tree stand accidents are the number one cause of serious injury and even death to deer hunters. According to a study by the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA), around 500 hunters were killed and about 6,000 got injured from tree stand accidents in 2013.

Tree stand accidents happen mostly because of our own ignorance and negligence. These accidents are easily preventable if we follow basic safety measures. Most of the tree stand accidents happen because of falling asleep. Falling while climbing or descending from the tree can cause serious accidents. The tree stands are around 10 to 30 feet high. Falling from that height may break limbs. Spinal cord injury may cause permanent disability. Especially if the ground is rocky it could cost a life.

Low quality and faulty safety harness and other safety equipment are another reason for this type of accident. Therefore, ensuring a high-quality full-body harness and other safety equipment is crucial to avoid these unfortunate incidents.

Before the hunting, hunters should inspect the tree they are going to install their tree stand, it should be healthy and strong –according to an article published in Wisconsin Natural Resource Magazine. Hunter should also practice maneuvering on a tree stand if he’s not that familiar with hunting from a tree stand.

Safety harness for tree

Safety harness for tree stand hunting can save lives

Also, hunters should be extra careful if they are planning to hunt in the cold weather. Sitting on a tree stand in extreme coldness will hinder the usual body movement.

Mistaken People for Game Animal Hunting Accidents

These types of accidents are the most heartbreaking ones. Countless stories have been recorded where the hunting partners, other hunters, pedestrians were shot. You might expect it to happen to only inexperienced hunters but believe it or not, these accidents are more common among experienced hunters than inexperienced hunters.

The most important rule of firing a weapon is to remove all doubts about the target’s identification before the shot. Unfortunately, disobeying this rule is the primary reason for this type of accident. It happens because of overconfidence in one’s own self. Thinking that “It will never happen to me” is the trap. And it is true that you have been hunting for a long time and you don't expect these types of things happening to you, but unfortunately, the fact suggests otherwise. This isn’t only true in North America; rather hunting accidents due to miss-identification is common in other countries as well. For example, in New Zealand, 33 fatal deer hunting accident has occurred from 1979 to 2002. You can read this article to know more about it.

most common hunting accidents, causes and preventive measures (

Wearing high visibility clothing reduces accident rate

Being always aware of gun safety rules is the most crucial thing to void these accidents. Also, wearing high visibility clothing i.e. hunter’s orange vest, hat, etc. will reduce the accident rate. Using orange clothing for hunting dogs is also important to save dogs from getting shot mistakenly.  

Mechanical Failure

All forms of machines malfunction from time to time. It is almost impossible to predict when a gun may malfunction. So you would want to be cautious about such malfunctions.

Animal Attacks

Sometimes hunters get attacked by the animal they are trying to hunt like, boars or deer. There have been tons of incidents where the hunter was killed by the animal they were hunting. Here is a story of a man of age 66 killed by a deer he shot. He shot the deer and when he came off his stand the deer got up and attacked him. This is not a rare incident. Things like these happen all the time.

Sometimes it is another animal such as bears, cougars, that attacks while the hunter is very focused on his target. Read this article to know what one can and should do if a wild boar attacks during hunting. 

Drowning during duck hunting

Duck hunting from the boat is a common practice in North America. And unfortunately drowning is one of the accidents we see quite often in the news. Most of the time it happens because of the boat getting tipped over and the hunters get drowned. Sometimes during hunting, people jump in the water to retrieve something they lost and end up drowning.

A duck hunter was recorded drowned to death while he was swimming towards his drifting boat in Port O'Connor. The cause of this accident was the low temperature of the water.

duck hunters

Duck hunters in a boat

You need to have water safety equipment when you hunt near rivers, lakes, or canals. You should always put your safety before anything else when you are around water, hunting from a boat. Read this article to know more about the - The most Common Hunting Accidents: Causes and Preventive Measures.

Fire Hazard

It’s another dangerous thing that can happen due to the careless use of fire. Hunters tend to spend time in the woods during their hunting expeditions. During that time they may need to camp in the forest for days. It usually involves making fire for cooking or warming themselves. After that, the fire should be completely stopped. And, this is the rule which many hunter neglects. Obviously, this negligence could cause a huge disaster.

Common hunting accidents and how to prevent them

Carelessness can cause this

Carefulness is the only preventive measure that can be taken here. Hunter should always use and store firing equipment cautiously in the woods. We have a detailed guide on this topic - Storing and Using Firing Equipment: A detailed guide for beginner hunter.

Safety Rules

The people who do not care about rules and conventions are usually the ones that cause all these accidents. The hunting rules are there for a reason. People have made mistakes in the past, and depending on those mistakes the rules are made. So it is a good idea to follow the hunting rules and conventions to reduce the possibility of these accidents. What are the rules you can follow? Let us review the rules:

Things you should keep in mind when you handle guns:

  • Do not run, climb, jump over a fence, or cross water streams with loaded guns
  • The barrel of the gun should always be facing in a safe direction
  • Never point your gun at anyone (even if you are sure it is unloaded)
  • Do not keep your finger on the trigger when it is not required
  • Check the barrel and muzzle when you pick up your gun to see if anything is stuck there
  • Unload your gun when you do not need it

Things you should keep in mind when you decide to shoot:

  • Do not shoot without being absolutely sure what you are shooting at. Never guess the position of the animal by sounds or movements
  • Being too excited before shooting may cause accidents. You have to remain calm to be a better hunter.
  • Always keep in mind what is in front and back of the animal you are shooting. Because if there is another hunter around the animal you may hit him.
  • Remember the range of your gun. If you miss it may hit someone far away.
  • Do not take any kind of drugs or alcohol before hunting because it will reduce your responsiveness, disrupt your balance and vision.
  • Do not shoot at a hard surface, as the bullet may go in an unintended direction.

Experience, Practice, and Fitness

You need the practice to be good at anything. Hunting is not any different from any other skill that requires practice. You need to know how to properly use and handle guns. Especially in case of shotgun, you must know how to shoulder it properly. Know the rules and regulations of hunting. The overall knowledge is required to get good at hunting. It is not just about guns. You also need to be strong and fit to be a hunter. A hunter has to run, jump, climb, and all of those physically demanding activities. But if you lack any of these sides, you are likely to get severely injured. Inexperienced hunters can be dangerous to themselves and the people around them. So the most important thing is to learn from an expert, besides that reading, practicing with guns and be physically fit all these things add up.   


Accidents, in general, do not happen to you every day. So you do not like being too careful because it feels like “too much work” over nothing. You may have gotten away many times without being careful in the past. But you never know when things start to go down. Which would you prefer, doing a little extra, or regretting your own decisions later?

Click here to add a comment

Leave a comment: