DES MOINES, Iowa -- For about 60,000 Iowans, shotgun season for deer is the most wonderful time of year. "It's the time of year a lot of people look forward to. It's their Super Bowl." said Iowa DNR spokesperson Mick Klemesrud.
It is rare when that excitement fades to sadness. Klemesrud said, "Hunting is a safe activity. We have very few injuries but unfortunately with hunting, any injury can be very serious."
Sunday afternoon around 4:30 pm at Robert's Creek Park on the north side of Lake Red Rock, DNR investigators say 23 year old Blake Schroder was fatally hit by a round fired by someone in his own large hunting party. "It's a wake up call to all of us when you see that come out," Klemesrud said.
Including the fatality, the Iowa DNR says there were six hunting incidents where someone or a home was shot over the weekend. Since 2012 there have been an average of nearly twelve personal injuries from hunting per year three with fatalities. The last before Sunday, coming two years ago in 2016. Officials credit a change in the early 1980's requiring hunter education. Klemesrud said, " For anybody born after 1972, in order to purchase a hunters license and after that went into effect we saw a significant drop in injuries and hunting fatalities." But Klemesrud said even one death in 2018 is too many. "Treat every gun like it is loaded, point the muzzle in a safe direction, keep your finger off the trigger-guard and trigger and always have your safety on."
With such large spaces, you may think your hunting party is safe but as the deer move, sight lines change, your fellow hunters change and suddenly a loved one is in your cross-hairs. "Our biggest cause for concern is shooting at running deer. That tends to rank pretty high with our injuries," said Klemesrud. Concerns the DNR hopes hunters continue to be mindful of. Making an exciting hunting trip, a safe hunting trip. "Go through the hunting plan with the hunting party. Where's everybody going to be at all times during the hunt? Make sure you are all familiar with it and you stick to the plan," Klemesrud said.
The Iowa DNR also encourages deer hunters to wear more than the minimum amount of blaze orange required by the state. They say deer are color blind and it enhances your chances of being seen by fellow hunters.