Every year, dozens of people die and hundreds more are injured as the result of hunting accidents.
And while Halloween ghouls and ghosts take nothing but stepped-up precautions to avoid fall injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hunters take a different approach.
“Halloween may be one of the only times when groups of people wander off together and stand more than two feet away from each other,” said Harris Cooper, the Director of the Outdoor Safety Training Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
But as Halloween approaches, Cooper said he expects hunter injuries to increase.
The one risk Cooper doesn’t expect to increase this year is gunfire.
“There’s been some good news with gun safety and injury prevention,” he said.
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the percentage of firearm-related injuries associated with hunting among Americans ages 5 and older dropped by over 50 percent from 2009 to 2016.
The foundation attributes this improvement to a declining percentage of hunting activity during the deer hunting season and improved safety techniques and protocols.
During the last five years, deer hunting has increased by nearly 1 million people in the United States, where hunters killed 25.3 million deer in 2016, up from about 24.7 million in 2012.
Cooper said he attributes part of the decline in shooting injuries to hunters reducing the amount of ammunition they use and acquiring better safety equipment. But he also believes it’s the education more hunters are receiving about how to safely use the equipment.
The ongoing increase in hunting has been occurring since at least 1975, Cooper said.
He said the majority of the people who die from hunting are young men and account for most of the crashes that happen while hunting.
For the holiday season, Cooper said his center always comes up with safer alternatives to the traditional gift of weapons.
“When it comes to firearms, the best thing is the real-time advice from my center or from another gun safety organization,” he said.
But even when he says you should never set foot in a store, Cooper said if you can not remove yourself from a situation where you need a firearm, then there are certainly more low-risk options.
“If you’re looking for a bow or a hunting knife, there are so many other options,” he said.