New Hunting Safety Record

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The 2004 hunting season in Iowa was the safest on record with 17 hunting related injuries and zero fatalities. The investigation into a fatality initially thought was hunting related was determined by the Polk County Medical Examiner to have been a suicide.

Rod Slings, recreation safety program supervisor with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said he credits hard work by the 1,800 volunteer hunter education instructors and the new blaze orange requirement as the biggest factors

"This has been a long time goal of the department and while one injury is too many, having a year with no fatalities is tremendous," Slings said. Much of the hunter education course is taken from investigations into hunting incidents. The DNR began tracking hunting related incidents in 1964.

The number one cause of hunting related injuries is swinging on game or shooting at running deer.

"We are now seeing hunting incidents become news because they are so few," he said. "And I believe that can be traced directly to the requirement of hunter education."

The Iowa legislature passed a law requiring hunters born after Jan. 1, 1967, to successfully complete a hunter education course. Each year, another 12, 000 to 15,000 hunters receive safety training in the courses. "Hunting is part of our heritage and is an important tradition in our state. Anytime a hunter hears of an incident happening, they will be reminded of how much safer they are in the field today than when all this started 40 years ago," Slings said. "Hunting is a safe activity and is getting safer."