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4 Most Common Causes of Injury During Indiana Deer Hunting Season

Jason Reese

Deer Hunters Beware: ATVs, Trespassing, Misfire Accidents, and Tree Stand Falls Can Cause Serious Injury

November 18th thru December 3rd marks Indiana’s peak firearm deer hunting season, meaning gun-rifle season is fast approaching and hunters of all types will soon be looking for the best location to fire their first shots. Crown Hill Cemetery and Funeral Home in Indianapolis, well known to many Hoosiers as the burial place for President Benjamin Harrison, and Vice Presidents Thomas Marshall, Charles Fairbanks and Thomas Hendricks, recently made national news for its campaign aimed at keeping hunters off the 555-acre grounds this season. Although cemetery officials place “no hunting” signs throughout the area to warn off potential hunters, Crown Hill officials say they do have issues each year with hunters shooting at deer or building faulty deer stands on the grounds. Officials say that when hunters trespass on the property, liability and safety issues and incidents quickly arise, leading many into the path of a serious accident or legal dispute.

As the busiest hunting season approaches and Hoosiers are getting their camouflage and blaze orange out, the team at Wagner Reese has put together a helpful list that includes several deer hunting hazards that may require an experienced attorney to sort through.

Trespassing

Although it is less than common for a trespasser to successfully sue a property owner for an injury, it is not unheard of – especially if the landowner has acted violently or aggressively toward the hunter and caused injury. If the landowner is obviously negligent about a serious property hazard and there have not been any warnings, private property fencing, or precaution taken, the landowner may be found at fault. Under Indiana law, it is illegal to hunt, trap, chase or retrieve game on private land without the consent of the tenant or a signed private landowner permission form.

Tree Stand Injuries and Falls

Studies show that 1/3 of all hunters will experience a tree stand fall during their hunting career. For example, of the 182 hunting accident reports authored by Indiana’s DNR Division of Law Enforcement over the past five years, 109 involved falls from tree stands. Tree stand falls are some of the most common serious deer hunting issues and can result in life altering neck, back, and head injuries. For the sake of you and your family, use a fall arrest device, harness, or any other products to minimize your chances of a tree stand accident.

Shooting Accidents

Hunter safety courses and the wearing of blaze orange have certainly helped decrease the amount of deaths unintentionally caused by hunters each year but most hunting weapons like firearms and bows are still incredibly dangerous if improperly handled. The simple rush of a hunt can often throw even the most experienced sportsman into a whirlwind of confused excitement. Pulling the trigger at the first sight of movement happens and causes many serious accidents with roughly ten percent of all accidental shootings ending in death. Stay aware of these outlined cautions on how misfires and accidental shootings can occur to Indiana hunters.

  • Avoid wearing colors and patterns that blend into the outdoor surroundings. Bright orange, red or green clothing will be best seen. That includes vests, backpacks, and hats.
  • Improper loading, unloading, and handling of firearms make up the majority of self-inflicted gunshot wounds.
  • It is illegal to hunt, shoot at or kill any animal or to shoot at any object from within, into, upon or across any public road and to shoot across a body of water, except in the lawful pursuit of wildlife.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot and when you are ready to shoot, clearly identify your target and what is beyond. Hunting groups need to use good communication practices regarding their locations to avoid the risk of being involved in an accidental shooting.
  • Only point at what you plan to shoot. Ricocheting bullets claim their fair share of human causalities as well.
  • Treat every gun as if it’s loaded, even when you’re sure it’s not. It’s important to remember, a gun’s safety is a mechanical device, and can fail.

All Terrain and Off-Road Vehicles

Many hunters will use an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or off-road vehicle (ORV) to travel to their hunting grounds. Despite the lack of consistent regulation across the United States, there are basic recommendations echoed by nearly every major ATV/ORV safety organization including these:

  1. Always wear a DOT-compliant helmet, goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots, and gloves.
  2. Never ride on paved roads. The exception is to cross where permitted by law and in a safe manner.
  3. Never operate or ride an ATV/ORV while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  4. Pay strict attention to rider maximums. Never allow additional riders beyond what is intended for the ATV/ORV.
  5. Only ride an ATV/ORV that is size-appropriate for the age of the driver.
  6. Ride at a safe speed and only on designated trails.
  7. Take a hands-on ATV/ORV safety course.

A new state law requires children under age 18 to wear an approved helmet when riding any ATV/ORV on public or private property in Indiana, including Interlake and Redbird state recreation areas.

Of course, we want you to experience the excitement of the season, but to stay focused on the safety of the hunt as well. So always let someone else know of your hunting plans and include your location and where you will be parking your vehicle. Carry a charged cell phone with you in case of an emergency and let a friend or relative know when you expect to return.

For a full list of hunting safety tips, the U.S. Department of Agriculture offers detailed advice for venturing out into the woods.

Representing Indiana Hunters

If you have been injured in a hunting accident, whether from the recklessness of another hunter or a negligent landowner, or from a product malfunction, the personal injury and product liability attorneys at Wagner Reese can assist you in recovering the damages you are owed. Contact us now at (888) 204-8440 to schedule an appointment in our Indianapolis or Carmel offices, or use our convenient, confidential contact form.

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