The March 2005 issue of The Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection and Critical care included a study in which researchers examined hunting-related accidents in Pennsylvania from 1987 to 1999. The study found that turkey hunting caused the most accidents, but found an incredibly low rate of accident for all hunting.
Pennsylvania has a Fall turkey season, and over the 12 year period studied by researchers, turkey hunters had an accident rate of 7.5 per 100,000 hunters. Grouse hunters had the lowest accident rate, with just 1.9 per 100,000 hunters.
Deer hunting accidents were, however, the most likely to result in fatalities with fully 10.3 percent of hunting accidents resulting in a death.
The research found that poor judgment was, in general, the biggest cause of hunting accidents except for deer hunting where poor skills were the most common cause of accidents.
Since the risk of accidents were higher among those under 20 than older hunters, the study recommended more safety instruction. It also recommended the reintroduction of requirements that hunters wear orange clothing, noting that hunting accidents had been declining after the introduction of such a requirement, but began increasing again following the lifting of that requirement in Pennsylvania.
Hunting-Related Shooting Incidents in Pennsylvania, 1987-1999. Joseph L. Smith, MD, et al, Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection and Critical Care, 58(3):582-590, March 2005.
Study finds turkey hunting is most dangerous. Mark Scolforo, Associated Press, March 10, 2005.