State says five hunting-related deaths so far this season

BEAUFORT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – State officials are stressing the importance of hunting safety because they say more people are getting hurt and even killed while hunting.

The Wildlife Resources Commission said there have already been five hunting-related deaths this year, with eleven of what they call “incidents” that included a firearm. Wildlife officials say their goal is to lower that number by sharing safety advice.

“I lost a friend to a hunting accident a long time ago. His name was Mel Boyd; rest in peace, but he was in a deer stand, and his gun prematurely fired, and he lost his life because of it,” said one hunter, Robert Denton.

Stories like Denton’s are what the Wildlife Resources Commission law enforcement division is trying to prevent, especially after seeing a rise in hunting-related injuries and deaths.

“Over the past year we seen five hunting fatalities, which exceeds the total number of hunting fatalities we’ve had over the past three years combined from 2020 to 2022 we only saw one fatality,” said Sergeant Daniel Kennedy

Kennedy says you can protect yourself by being aware of what your target is and what’s in front or behind it.

Since Kenndy says most major accidents happen when hunters mistake other hunters for game, he says it’s each hunter’s responsibility to handle their guns carefully.

“Always treat every firearm as if it’s loaded. Always keep it pointed in a safe direction at all times. Keep your finger out outside the trigger guard until you’re ready to shoot,” said Kennedy.

Something Robert Denton is already putting into practice.

“Number one is wearing an orange hat. That way, other hunters can identify you. Also, make sure your gun is unloaded when you’re climbing out of your stand,” said Denton.

According to the Wildlife Resource Commission, three of the hunting deaths were in Eastern Carolina, one each in Halifax, Northampton, & Perquimans counties.

Kenndy also said they offer hunting education courses both in person and online. If you wish to get more information or sign up for a class, you can do so here.