Hunting is a pretty important holiday tradition for a lot of families here in Middle Tennessee, but it can be dangerous. This year it has already been especially risky. There have been several accidents, and even one death.
The conventional gun season opened this past Saturday, and already there have been a number of hunting-related accidents.
"Deer hunters in Tennessee are in the big game conventional gun season," said Doug Markham, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) informational officer. "It's when more hunters than any other get out this time of year."
Sumner County resident Jim Earley was searching for a deer on his four-wheeler this past weekend when he tumbled down a 200-foot ravine. Rescue crews pulled him to safety with a rope.
"My head hit a rock on the ground when I was thrown from the vehicle," Earley said.
Kerry Seiber, 49, died this weekend when he fell out of a tree stand near the Williamson-Maury County line hunting deer.
A 17-year-old Warren County hunter accidentally shot himself in the foot while hunting in Van Buren County. He's recovering in the hospital.
Last year in Tennessee there were eight hunting-shooting accidents. Two were self-inflicted, three were shot by hunting partners, three others were shot by other hunters and one was fatal. There were also eight tree stand accidents. TWRA officials said these type of accidents are more common than you think.
"Tree stands cause more damage to human beings most years than any other years," Markham said.
TWRA officials said hunters can follow a few simple steps and stay safe this hunting season.
"Always wear your orange vest and hat," Markham said. "If you're in a tree stand, wear a harness. It's inexpensive; a harness will save your life and prevent you from hitting the ground."
Markham said saving lives is what it's all about.
"I know it sound preachy, but if people will pay attention to what we're saying they can save themselves a lot of trouble, a lot of unhappiness, a lot of injuries," Markham said. "The death stuff is just awful to talk about when you know when a little tiny precaution would have saved a life."
The conventional gun season ends on Jan. 6, 2013. There will also be a two-day youth hunt on Jan. 12 and 13.
TWRA offers a free hunters education program. To learn more about that as well as other hunting-related information you can visit TWRA's website at: www.tnwildlife.org.