Our past hunting season was marred with a rash of accidental shootings across the commonwealth -- 91 in all tolled with eight resulting in an untimely death.
At least half of the fatalities were directly attributed to the unsafe handling of firearms which seems to bring some validity to "Talking The Wild's" long time belief that safety cannot be mandated -- education is the only answer.
The safest year on record occurred in 1993 when 85 persons were injured by an array of arms -- four of these accidents resulted in death -- not so good for the "safest year." Cold statistics breaks these numbers down to 7.37 incidents per 100,000 hunters. Not so bad I suppose -- statistically -- yet I can find no solace in statistics.
Last season, the incident rate was 8.57 per 100,000 hunters with most occurring during the big game seasons (which includes wild turkey). The categories were broken down as follows: deer seasons, 32 incidents; wild turkey, 19; and bear, one. Other categories included rabbit hunting, 13; pheasant, ten; and squirrel, eight. The average age of persons causing the incidents is 32 with an average of 19 years hunting experience.
The most common type of shooting incident was in-the-line-of-fire, 30; followed by the most inexcusable of all, mistaken for game, 22; accidental discharge, 12; sporting arm in dangerous position, eight. Others fall more into the category of true accidents: ricochet, six; slipped and/or fell, five; stray shot, four; and dropped weapon, four.
Pennsylvania's worst safety year on record was back in 1931 when 72 people died as a result of hunting accidents.
Upper Delaware Field Notes
• The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) has released a new brochure called "Living With Pennsylvania Black Bears" in direct response to a growing public interest and concern about bears.
The eight-page brochure focuses on bear biology and natural history while addressing ways to reduce bear nuisance problems (at home and while camping), and a list of bear encounter do's and don'ts.
It is my experience that most folks still fall for the old myth that black bears are not dangerous, certainly not as dangerous as their brown bear cousins -- hog-wash. These massive, wild critters are and should be considered dangerous at all times. In fact, blacks, across our continent, are responsible for more attacks on humans (provoked and unexplained) than their brown counterparts (which include grizzlies).
You can get your copy from any regional game commission office or from headquarters in Harrisburg. The brochure will soon be available on-line at pgc.state.pa.us. You can also write Pennsylvania Game Commission, Dept MS, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797.
• According to Jan Lokuta, lawyer for the Pike County Industrial & Commercial Authority, Dimitri Zaimes finally admitted under oath that his father, Charlie Zaimes, shot and wounded a 95-pound pet Akita dog during the recently past black powder season. According to Lokuta, the shooting allegedly took place on county land after the Zaimes were put on notice not to be there. The admission came during depositions concerning the development of Pike County's business park.
Charlie Zaimes, a life member of a questionable organization called Pennsylvania Outdoor Writer's Association (POWA -- at least I have many questions about the organization's ethics), claims that he mistook the tri-colored pet as a wild coyote despite little resemblance between the two. Linda Steiner, executive director of POWA, would not comment on the incident or Zaimes.
The Zaimes operate a small, nondescript bait shop in Lackawaxen.
• With your indulgence -- a final Memorial Day thought. I like to take off my outdoor hat for a moment. Please take this time with me to remember our brave servicemen who were imprisoned by our enemies yet eventually abandoned by our nation's political leaders and left behind to endure a lifetime void of love and wrought with unspeakable torture in North Korea, China, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. If you are a believer, please remember them in your prayers. If I may be so bold as to speak on their behalf, I'm sure they offer you back the sincerest "thank you" ever spoken.
Until next time, be safe and good luck!
© 1998 by the author(s) Duplication without permission is prohibited.
Entire contents © 1998, Stuart Communications, Inc.