Maine Hunting Season One of Safest on Record

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The 2007 Hunting Season is turning out to be one of the safest seasons since records began being kept in 1940, according to preliminary Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife numbers.

No hunters died and 11 were wounded during the calendar year thus far. Deer hunting season ended Dec. 8, and the hunting season for opossum, skunk, raccoon, pheasant, ruffed grouse, bobcat, fox and bobwhite quail currently is under way.

The safest years on record occurred after mandatory hunter safety education courses were implemented in 1986.

"This season is a testament to all of the hunters who practiced safe hunting techniques and to all of the safety coordinators and educators who taught them," said IF&W Deputy Commissioner Paul Jacques, who as a legislator in the 1980s pushed for mandatory hunter safety education.

This year, most of the wounded – six people, including two juveniles -- were victims of self-inflicted shots.

Ten of the 11 hurt were hunters. One non-hunter, a stern man on a lobster boat, was hit when a pellet from a gun used by hunters firing at ducks skipped off the water. No medical attention was required.

The safest year on record is 1998, when three people were hurt. In 2003 and 2005, five people were hurt each year.

An average of 210,000 resident and non-resident hunting licenses was purchased in the last few years. Preliminary numbers suggest that 29,400 deer were harvested in 2007, around the average number harvested in the last couple of years. Actual numbers still are being compiled.