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Hunter Safety Statistics

DEC documented 22 hunting-related shooting incidents (HRSIs) during the 2020-2021 hunting season, three of which were fatalities. While there were more hunting-related shooting incidents this year than last year, the number of incidents this season continued the downward trend in HRSIs observed over the past 20 years.

Nine of the 22 HRSIs that occurred last year were two-party firearm incidents, and 13 were self-inflicted. The three fatalities were all self-inflicted, and all three hunters were experienced. All of the incidents could have been prevented if hunting safety rules had been followed.

Further examination of the nine two-party firearm incidents reveals that seven victims involved were not wearing hunter orange, reinforcing the importance of wearing hunter orange or pink when afield, and identifying the target and beyond, two of the major principles of DEC's hunter safety courses. For more information on HRSIs, see the report below.

The hunting incident rate (incidents per 100,000 hunters) continues to fall over time. Since the 1960s, the number of hunters in New York has declined about 20 percent, while the incident rate has declined almost 80 percent. The current five-year average is 2.0 incidents per 100,000 hunters, compared to 19 per 100,000 hunters in the 1960s.

Hunter Safety Tips

While hunting is safer than ever, DEC encourages hunters to remember that every hunting-related shooting incident is preventable. Many, if not all of these incidents could have been prevented if the people involved had followed the primary rules of hunter safety:

  • Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
  • Control the muzzle, keep it pointed in a safe direction.
  • Identify your target and what lies beyond.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.
  • Wear hunter orange.


Appreciation goes out to the DEC Environmental Conservation Officers who conduct professional investigations of each hunting-related shooting incident and hunting-related tree stand incident.

You can view and print the 2020reports by clicking the links below.

2020 Hunting-Related Shooting Incidents (PDF)

2020 Tree Stand-Related Incidents (PDF)