Safety comes first

Published 11:34 pm Friday, January 23, 2009

By Staff
From the first day people settled in eastern North Carolina, hunting has been a way of life. That’s not going to change in the aftermath of a hunting accident that left a Beaufort County boy injured.
Although hunting-related accidents happen, the incident should serve as a reminder to follow hunting-safety procedures at all times. Following those rules does not guarantee there will not be hunting accidents, but it will help reduce the number of such accidents.
It is fortunate Cooper Anderson, 8, son of Rick Anderson, principal of Southside High School, is able to tell the story about the hunting accident that resulted in him being shot in the foot Monday. It is unfortunate that others are not able to tell the stories about the hunting accidents that left them dead or injured. Perhaps those stories could help prevent other hunting accidents.
During the 2007-2008 fiscal year in North Carolina, hunting accidents resulting in fatalities or injuries dropped when compared to the previous fiscal year. During the 2007-2008 fiscal year, there were eight fatal and 28 nonfatal hunting accidents. Beaufort County recorded one nonfatal hunting accident that year. The previous fiscal year, there were five fatal and 33 nonfatal hunting accidents in the state. During the 2005-2006 fiscal year, there were 42 hunting accidents, eight of them fatal and 34 nonfatal in the state. During the 2004-2005 fiscal year, there were 54 hunting accidents, six of them fatal and 48 nonfatal in North Carolina.
Not all hunting accidents are caused by firearms or bows and arrows. Some hunters are killed or injured when they fall from treestands.
If children want to hunt, that is their call. Adults must make sure those children hunt in a safe manner. Hunter-education efforts play a key role in teaching hunters, youths and adults alike, how to hunt properly.
Huebner is right when he makes the point that prevention and education go hand in hand. Huebner also makes a point worth remembering when he said that wildlife officers who investigate hunting accidents often find that hunters violated one or more of the cardinal safety rules.
Hunter-education courses are offered in every county by the commission. Before someone can buy a hunting license, state law requires the person to successfully complete a hunter-education course. Even veteran hunters could use a refresher course from time to time.
One hunting accident is one too many.