The 2013 hunting season could be one of the safest in years, according to statistics kept by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Only one fatality was reported statewide, and occurred in Montmorency County on opening day, Nov. 15, 2013, when Michael Heisler, 52, of St. Clair accidentally shot himself while hunting from a tree stand in Albert Township. The cause was attributed to careless handling of a firearm.
Eight other people were injured during the year, Sgt. Joe Molnar of the DNR's Law Enforcement Division said.
"For the hundreds of thousands of hunters in Michigan, to have nine serious hunting accidents makes them relatively rare," Molnar said.
In 2012, one fatality and 14 injuries were reported, compared to 1960, when 11 people died and 296 were injured.
According to the DNR report, carelessness was often cited as the cause. In one instance, a 57-year-old man injured his hand in Oscoda County after he dropped and grabbed for his gun while hunting from a ladder stand. In Barry County, a rabbit ran past two men and when both turned to shoot, one of them was hit in the back with a .22 caliber slug.
Careless handing of crossbows resulted two reported injuries. One hunter fell asleep with his finger on the crossbow trigger opening day and the bolt went through his foot. Another man attempted to remove a quiver from a bow Oct. 27, 2013, and a bolt passed through his upper leg because the safety was off.
"It's pretty common of what we see every year," Molnar said. "People become complacent in handling weapons. They have been handling them for years, and any time you become comfortable, that's when accidents happen."
In other instances 17-year-old was hit by a shotgun pellet that ricocheted while he was rabbit hunting in Shiawassee County Feb. 16, 2013. In September 2013, a 44-year-old man in Iron County was grouse hunting and lost sight of his hunting partner in dense cover. When he pulled the trigger on a flushing grouse, the shot sprayed over the partner's legs, arm and stomach.
And a 12-year-old in St. Clair County shot at a deer, but aimed too high. The slug struck a chicken coop that was out of sight, injuring a12-year-old standing nearby.
"We did have a couple younger hunters so in can come down to inexperienced handling as well," Molnar said.
Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.