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The Four Main Causes of Hunting Incidents

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There’s no doubt in my mind that hunting is the greatest sport there is.

It’s the first sport to ever exist, after all.

However, it can be easy to forget that, unlike most other sports, ours involve wild animals and deadly firearms.

It’s this very reason that we have to take hunter-ed courses, and although they teach all of this, and although I’m sure you already know all of these points, it can be important to freshen up.

When taking a course on hunting safety, it can be a little overwhelming with all the small and nitpicky rules you have to remember. However, by just keeping the four main causes of hunting incidents in the back of your head, you significantly increase your chances of staying safe.

In this article, I’ll go through each one, so that you can refreshen the old noggin’ on how to stay safe out there.

Let’s get into it!

1. Hunter Judgment Mistakes

The number one cause of incidents while out in the wild is simply human error. A lot of people tend to get a little overconfident, or maybe a little cocky even, in their hunting abilities.

I get it, I’ve been there many times.

At some point, you’ve hunted for long enough to where everything becomes second nature, and it can be easy to forget that you’re dealing with a deadly weapon and wild animals.

Hunting on “autopilot” as my uncle call it, is one of the worst things you can do. In the same way that marathon runners are told NOT to zone out during running because it ruins their form, the same goes for hunting. No matter how long you’re out there waiting for the prey, you need to stay focused.

By going on autopilot it’s easy to misjudge targets, and that’s the very root of most human error-related accidents. Misidentifying a target, misjudging distance, or even underestimating the challenges that the very environment you’re in are all common causes of accidents.

The most common story, of course, is of hunters mistaking their fellow hunting partners for prey.

NEVER shoot on autopilot, and always identify your prey beyond a shadow of a doubt before you pull the trigger.

Hunter aiming his prey with rifle

2. Safety Rule Violations

Ignoring very basic safety rules is also one of the highest causes of hunting accidents in the US today.

It stems from a lot of the same reasons as number #1, hunter arrogance and overconfidence. Feeling that just because there’s no one around, or because you’ve done it enough times, the rules don’t apply anymore.

But trust me, there’s a reason they’re there!

Neglecting firearm safety practices, not studying your prey properly, not wearing the right clothing and not following the right precautions while using equipment like boats etc. are all way too common ways hunters have gotten hurt in the wilds.

A lot of people forget that in this sport, messing up doesn’t just mean the potential for something broken or a failed attempt at winning — it can mean permanent injury or even death.

Just think of all the stories you’ve heard where a hunter forgot to turn off the safety hatch on the rifle and accidentally shot themselves while climbing fences or brushes.

All the safety precautions we learn in the hunter-ed courses are there for a reason!

Sports shooting. Hunter reloading cartridge. Smoke from the trunks of smooth-bore hunting rifle

3. Lack of Control and Patience

One of the most valuable skills to have as a hunter will always be patience, and with patience, comes control. Any rushed action, whether due to excitement or frustration, is one of the most common ways hunters get injured.

Hunting requires a trained mindset that values patience and control as equal skills to physical training. That’s just a fancy way of saying: don’t get tilted.

The feeling of going hours or days without a single spot of prey, missed shots or failed equipment can be incredibly frustrating to the point where you lose sense of what you’re out doing.

I promise you, it’s not worth it to get mad about anything.

Make sure you take time to relax, distract yourself, have some food, some good conversation – or anything else that diverges you from having a clean mind.

The Four Main Causes of Hunting Incidents

4. Mechanical Failure

The least common reason for hunting incidents, but still relatively common compared to freak accidents, is mechanical failures.

They’re dire because if something DOES go wrong, the results can be catastrophic. Faulty firearms or worn-out gear can malfunction, and that leads to rough accidents.

This is why we here at Elite Hunter always preach investing in quality gear, and most importantly, regular maintenance.

Making sure your firearm is up to snuff is not a matter of luxury or show-off, it’s a necessity for safe hunting! Clean your rifle after each use and conduct thorough cleanings periodically — remember to always pay special attention to the barrel!

If you regularly hunt in the conditions I hunt in, also make sure to always check for signs of water damage. Always test and maintain the safety catch and trigger mechanism before heading out – and when not using the rifle, please don’t have it mounted on the wall. Store and transport the rifle safely, unloaded and in a secure case.

Hunting rifle, bandolier and cartridges, gun store

And there you have the four main causes of hunting incidents

Unfortunately, we all gotta hear about the hunting accidents that happen every year.

They’re tragic, and often very preventable.

Freak accidents happen all the time, somehow, but if you keep these four things in mind when you’re out hunting – you’re significantly lower at risk for a potential accident.

Don’t let arrogance ruin your chances of a great hunt.

Stay safe out there, and happy hunting!

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