New member
Dec 20, 2000
Jackson, Wyoming
Contact: Jeff Obrecht
For Immediate Release

CHEYENNE – Wyoming was vexed with only three firearm hunting accidents in 2001, down from seven last year and the 20-year average of 6.5.

“We’re definitely pleased to see the drop in accidents and that there were no fatalities,” said Helen McCracken, hunter education coordinator for the Game and Fish Department.

She reports two of the accidents were nearly identical and would not have happened if the hunters would have unloaded their firearms before getting in a vehicle.

“There’s no reason to carry a loaded firearm in a vehicle,” McCracken stresses. “Why would anyone want to? It’s illegal to shoot from the vehicle or the road. Since you can’t shoot legally until you’re out of the vehicle, why have a loaded gun in the vehicle? You’re just asking to be a statistic if there’s a loaded gun in the vehicle.”

In addition to carrying loaded firearms in a vehicle, this year’s accidents raised other ethical questions, she said. Alcohol played a role in one of the vehicle accidents, and another accident happen when a pheasant was shot at on the ground.

The victim in the alcohol-related accident told investigators he did not know there was anything wrong with drinking and hunting and that “everyone does it.”

“For obvious reasons, hunting and drinking don’t mix just like driving and drinking don’t mix,” McCracken said. “It is a violation to be intoxicated while hunting just like it is driving, and drunk hunters should be reported just like drunk drivers. This year’s alcohol-related accident bears out the danger. “

The two vehicle-related accidents involved resident families deer hunting in western Wyoming. The pheasant mishap took place in Goshen County.

All hunting accidents are preventable, McCracken believes, and the G&F strives for no accidents annually. Three accidents out of 205,000 Wyoming hunting licenses sold in 2001 and at least several hundred persons who do not need a license to shoot prairie dogs and coyotes, reflects the overall safety of hunting.

“Compared to the ‘50s and ‘60s when 25-30 accidents were reported each year, we’ve really made progress,” she said. “But the goal will always be no accidents each hunting season.”

In 1994, the National Safety Council reported for every 100,000 hunters there were 6.1 injuries (from all causes in addition to firearms). That compares to 1,189 injuries for bicycling, 194 for swimming, 156 for golf and 57 for bowling per every 100,000 participants.

Wyoming’s firearm hunting accidents in 2001:

ü On Sept. 23, two 34-year-old Green River men were deer hunting and beer drinking west of La Barge. The men were accompanied by their sons. Upon deciding to drive closer to some deer, the adult passenger sat his loaded .270 Weatherby muzzle up in the truck cab. He told investigators he noticed the rifle’s safety was off, and as he reached down to push it on he must have accidentally hit the trigger discharging the rifle. The bullet went through his shoulder and out the roof of the pickup. The blast inflicted ringing in the ears of the youngster sitting in the middle and sprayed glass in the face of one of the two boys in pickup bed. The investigation by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office determined the men had been drinking beer and they were ticketed for hunting while intoxicated. The men were fined $130 each and ordered to complete a hunter education class.

ü On a family outing, a 38-year-old Evanston woman shot a mule deer Oct. 1. Her husband went to field dress the animal. As the shooter got in the truck to drive closer to the site, she noticed her daughter’s rifle leaning muzzle up against the seat. As the mother grabbed the barrel of the .25-35 caliber rifle it discharged through her upper arm and out her shoulder. The 14-year-old daughter was a recent hunter education graduate.

ü On Nov. 10, a 57-year-old Cheyenne man shot at a pheasant on the ground in Goshen County. The 12-gauge blast struck his 24-year-old hunting partner’s ankle. The injury required two surgeries for the Cheyenne victim, but a full recovery is expected.


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