Hunting incidents in Washington

Every year, people are injured in hunting-related incidents in Washington. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) tracks these incidents in the interest of preventing them in the future. Hunting incidents are caused -- they don't just happen.

WDFW has reviewed hunting incidents for more than 70 years, and nearly every hunting incident is preventable.

Ten firearms safety rules

  • Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
  • Be sure of your target and what lies beyond it.
  • Never carry or place a loaded firearm in or on a motor vehicle.
  • Never use a firearm unless you are familiar with how it works.
  • Be sure the barrel and action are clear of obstructions.
  • Unload firearms when climbing trees, crossing fences, streams or other obstacles.
  • Never point at anything you do not want to shoot.
  • Unload firearms when they are not in use.
  • Never use alcohol or drugs before or while shooting.

Hunting incidents by license year

Every year, WDFW compiles the hunting incidents from the previous license year, to inform and educate others on the nature of these incidents, in hopes of preventing future injuries. Select a license year to begin.

Hunting incident breakdowns

The graphs below summarize hunting incident data collected by WDFW. Although hunting incidents continue to decline over time, even one incident is one too many.

Incidents by decade

Bar graph showing hunting incidents by decade from the 1950s to 2010s
Photo by WDFW
Decade Number of incidents
1950s 397
1960s 398
1970s 441
1980s 267
1990s 161
2000s 98
2010s 49

Incidents by equipment type

Bar graph showing hunting incidents by equipment type 1973-2017
Photo by WDFW
Equipment type Number of incidents
Shotgun 367
Rifle 280
Handgun 85
Muzzleloader 17
Archery 14

Incidents by age group

Bar graph showing hunting incidents by shooter age 1973-2017
Photo by WDFW
Age group Number of incidents
10-19 187
20-29 197
30-39 125
40-49 98
50-59 51
60 and older 32