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Hunting-Related Shooting Incidents in Pennsylvania, 1987–1999

Smith, Joseph L. MD, MS; Wood, G Craig MS; Lengerich, Eugene J. VMD, MS

The Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection, and Critical Care: March 2005 - Volume 58 - Issue 3 - p 582-590
doi: 10.1097/01.TA.0000151348.91729.B6
Original Articles

Background: Characteristics and rates of shooting injuries associated with hunting various game species are unreported.

Methods: For the 1,345 hunting-related shooting incidents in Pennsylvania from 1987 to 1999, age-adjusted hunter injury rates and case–fatality ratios were calculated for each of seven species hunted. Differences in the incidents and injuries were tested (p < 0.05).

Results: Fall turkey hunters had the highest (7.5 per 100,000 hunters) and grouse hunters the lowest (1.9 per 100,000) injury rate. The case–fatality ratio was highest for deer hunters (10.3%) and lowest for pheasant hunters (1.3%). Poor skill was the leading cause of deer hunting injuries, and poor judgment the leading cause for injuries during the hunting of other species. Coinciding with changes in regulations requiring orange clothing for hunters, the injury rates for fall turkey hunters initially decreased (rate ratio, 4.1), then increased (rate ratio, 0.5). Hunters younger than 20 years had the highest injury rates.

Conclusions: The rates and characteristics of hunting-related shooting injuries varied by hunted species. Hunter orange clothing regulations appeared to reduce fall turkey hunting injury rates.

From the Geisinger Health System, Danville, Pennsylvania (J.L.S., G.C.W.), and the Department of Health Evaluation Sciences, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania (E.J.L.).

Submitted for publication July 5, 2003.

Accepted for publication October 15, 2004.

Address for reprints: Eugene J. Lengerich, VMD, MS, Department of Health Evaluation Sciences, College of Medicine, Pennsylvania State University, P.O. Box 855, Mailstop A210, 600 Centerview Drive, Suite 2200, Hershey, PA, 17033–0855; email:

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.