OK, sorry for the provocative headline but I wanted to make sure I got your attention….. 🙂

“Let’s be CAREFUL Out There”….. That’s Sergeant Phil Esterhaus’ famous line from Hill Street Blues he used every day before sending his police officers out on the street to fight crime.

That same advice applies to the hundreds of thousands of hunters who will be hitting the woods on Saturday for the opening day of gun season for deer hunting in New York State.

By all means, PLEASE, let’s be careful out there.

As an injury attorney for more than 20 years in an area of Upstate NY known for great hunting (Chemung County, Steuben County, Yates County and Schulyer County), I have unfortunately witnessed the cruel consequence of what happens when hunters don’t follow the basic rules of hunter safety.

On behalf of my injured clients, I have brought a wide range of hunting negligence lawsuits:

  • A turkey hunter shot not once, but twice, by a 17 year old hunter who failed to confirm his target BEFORE pulling the trigger. He claimed that “I thought it was a turkey” despite the fact that the hunter he shot two times at close range was 6’2″ and 260 lbs. Might big turkey…..
  • A deer hunter killed by a hunting companion who “forgot” his buddy was hunting in a stand of trees and who shot into that stand of trees when he “heard a deer moving.” Turned out he heard his buddy, who was dressed in safety orange, standing up to come out and greet him. Sadly, this hunter shot and killed his buddy.
  • A deer hunter who shot into a home badly injuring a woman as she lay sleeping in her own bed. Despite the fact that the hunter was within 350′ of the woman’s home, he felt that there was “no problem” shooting that close to a home. Too bad for him that NY law makes it unlawful to shoot within 500′ of a dwelling.

These are just a few examples of the many different ways that people can be hurt by hunters who fail to follow basic safety rules. Now, don’t get me wrong, I come from a family of hunters and some of my good friends are avid hunters. But good hunters know the importance of safety and my experience is that good hunters are safe hunters. They know to follow the basic safety rules hammered in to my thick head by my father many years ago:

  • Treat every gun as if it is loaded AT ALL TIMES.
  • NEVER shoot until you have clearly and unmistakably identified your target.
  • ALWAYS empty a gun of its shells after leaving the woods and before putting the gun in the car. Even unloaded, assume the gun is loaded.
  • ALWAYS know what is behind your target and if you are not sure, do NOT shoot.
  • NEVER shoot toward a house, barn or livestock.

Of course, these are just a few of the many rules that every hunter should know and practice every time they go out. A super resource for New York hunting information is the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov.

I hope everyone has a safe, fun and productive hunting season. Let’s be careful out there….

Thanks for reading,

Jim Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer