WMAs are much safer than you probably think
As a group, hunters are an opinionated crowd. And many opinions are based on feelings rather than fact. That’s especially true when it comes to hunting on WMAs.
If you go to a public dove field and see a hunter every 50 yards, you may not “feel” safe. When you pull into a WMA parking area for a deer hunt and three trucks are already there, you may not “feel” safe.
Capt. Billy Downer of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ enforcement division tracks all hunting-related accidents, accidents that occur in the act of hunting. Injuries suffered while hanging tree stands before the season don’t count.
Over a recent three-year period, South Carolina hunters on both private and WMA lands were involved in 76 accidents, 54 related to firearms, and including seven fatalities. The other 22 were accidents related to tree stands.
In 2015, one hunter involved in a firearm-related accident was on WMA land. He was hit by a ricocheting buckshot pellet on a dog hunt.
In 2016, no firearms-related accidents occurred on WMA land. And in 2017, one non-fatal accident involving a firearm took place on WMA land when a hunter mistook another for game.
Hunting inherently offers some risks, but hunting on public land does not seem to increase the threat. If anything, the evidence points in the other direction. Millions of acres of public land are available for hunters in the Carolinas. And a fear of not being “safe” shouldn’t keep hunters from taking advantage.
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