Why Emphasize the Negative?
By Larry S. Moore
A number of outdoor columnists are reporting on the recently completed deer gun season in Ohio. Many of those columnists end their stories with a recap of the hunting fatalities and incidents in Ohio. It seems like lots of columnist feel obligated to include the statistics in their reports. As an outdoor writer, I hate ending my columns on a negative note. Why end on a negative? I don't understand that. I am safer deer hunting than in any big city in Ohio.
Additionally, they report the incident but never an analysis of the situation, background info, or what laws of nature/God; gun handling safety; and wildlife regulations were broken in the process.
A case in point is the 12 year-old boy in Vinton County that was shot by older brother. With apologies to Paul Harvey, here is the rest of the story...
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Neither boy was old enough to legally hunt alone, but that is what they were doing. There should have been an adult in the woods with them. You have to be 18 to take anyone under the age of 16 hunting; so a 15-year old can not legally take a 12-year old hunting. Legal shooting hours for Vinton County on the day of the incident ended at 5:12 PM. The boy was shot at approximately 5:30 PM - well after legal shooting hours. Additionally a golden rule of hunting is to "make sure of your target and beyond". We emphasize this constantly in the hunter education classes I teach. A combination of several laws and safety rules were broken leading to this tragedy. We may never know where the parents were or if the kids just sneaked out on their own (yes, my cousin and I have done that in years past when he was about 17 and I was 13). Certainly the parents and the older brother have a great deal of emotional burden to carry the rest of their lives.
I get concerned that we repeat the bad statistics and everyone has a horror story to tell. I don't tell them in hunter ed. Why scare people? If we applied the same thought process to everyday life, none of us would be able to venture outside our homes in a vehicle. The 9 incidents among approximately 400,000 (maybe a few more) hunters is incredibly safe. That is a .00225% chance of injury. 2 deaths is .0005% death rate in 400,000! Put me in the woods but not in the city! I am not ignoring or discounting the grief to the families where injury or death was involved as a result of hunting. Unfortunately every year as deer gun season approaches the will have the stories in the media to remind them of their loss and pain of previous years.
We should be shouting the praises of safe hunting rather than emphasizing the negative. Hunters and some outdoor writers are helping to give the non-hunting and uninformed public the perspective that hunting (and gun ownership) is dangerous. Nothing is further from the truth.
Even though my deer season was not successful from a harvest standpoint, it was one of the best weeks of the year in our family. This year I've had the pleasure of walking my daughter down the aisle at her marriage to a wonderful young man. I've celebrated the birth of our first grandchild and watched as my son became a man and a father. And I've enjoyed several days of deer hunting with those same children. It was wonderful to see them in the woods together! They have a special bond and no where is that more apparent than when we are outdoors together. No matter the responsibilities and stress of daily lives, we are free in the woods. I watched in amazement as I looked at my now adult children. At the same time they were kids again, teasing and joking but also looking out for each other. I was truly blessed to be with them. That is the true meaning of deer season for my family. I thank God for those blessings and the freedom to hunt.
Outdoor writer and hunter education instructor Larry S. Moore is a long-time volunteer leader for Buckeye Firearms Association and winner of the 2005 USSA Patriot Award.