It’s that time of year again. We are in the peak of the whitetail deer season in Alabama, and spring turkey season is just around the corner.
I enjoy hunting. It’s an activity I’ve enjoyed for most of my adult life, but I’m always conscious of the many ways that a mundane hunting trip can result in an accident with tragic consequences. Hunting involves rifles with military-power cartridges, arrows with razor-sharp tips and crossbows with open decks and strings that travel fast and with great force. Hunting, especially for large game such as whitetail deer, involves climbing into treestands, sometimes as much as twenty feet in the air. When done properly, hunting is safe. When done improperly, hunting can be very dangerous.
Recently, while hunting Canada geese with close friends, our guide told us a disturbing story about a young woman who hunted with them this season. The young woman appeared intelligent and appeared to understand how to operate her 12 gauge shotgun safely. However, when the guide told the group of hunters to “check their safeties,” this young woman decided to pull the trigger in order to see if the safety was on or off. The resulting shot, inside a blind containing six other people, fortunately did not kill or injure anyone, but it easily could have. The mistake seems obvious, but there is a valuable lesson here. Know who you are hunting with, and make sure that they have been properly taught about firearms and firearm safety. If you feel you need to refresh your knowledge, do so before you hunt this season.
Another common hunting accident involves so-called “climbing tree stands,” which allow a hunter to quickly and quietly climb a tree in order to hunt without being seen by deer. If the stand was not properly installed, a hunter can fall from as much as twenty feet, resulting in serious personal injuries or death. This will happen in Alabama this season, and it is completely preventable. I’ve seen many hunters discard their safety harness before climbing a tree, because it is inconvenient to use one. Use your safety harness. It could be the only thing that brings you home to your family if your tree stand fails. Check your tree stand before you hunt and make sure that it is in proper working order. Most tree stands are well-designed and made. However, one failed weld or one loose bolt can result in a fall. We owe it to ourselves and our families to make sure our equipment works – before we climb.
You will very likely be safe this hunting season by paying attention to detail, mastering your firearm and knowing who you are hunting with. However, there are bad firearms and bad tree stands out there, and they can hurt people. If you find yourself the victim of a fall due to a tree stand you believe was defective, or the victim of a firearm that fired a bullet when you did not pull the trigger, you may not be at fault for your injuries, and you may have a claim. At Farris, Riley & Pitt, we understand the complex laws that surround these kinds of product liability cases, and can help you think through your situation. Be safe out there this hunting season.
You can contact our firm here to set up a free and confidential consultation. Or, call 205-324-1212.