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How Dangerous Are Various Recreational Activities?

Vice President Cheney's hunting accident led me to wonder — how dangerous (to humans) is hunting, compared to other recreational activities? Here are some statistics from the 1999 edition of National Safety Council's Injury Facts:

SportFatalitiesInjuries
Hunting92880
Swimming1500 not specified
Recreational boating 821 4555
Parachuting47 not specified
Skiing and snowboarding26 (22 skiing and 4 snowboarding) not specified
Football7334,420

Note that all the numbers (especially the injuries) probably involve some underreporting, so these are just rough cuts. The numbers also aren't normalized by the number of participants; for instance, hunting, swimming, and boating, for instance, are much more popular than parachuting, so parachuting may well have a higher fatality-per-participant (or fatality-per-episode) rate than those other activities.

I used the 1999 edition because that's the one on my shelf; I'll see if I can get some more recent numbers, and perhaps ones that cover more kinds of sports.

Here's 1996-98 data for Colorado alone; again, I point to it just because I could find it easily online — I suspect it's at least roughly representative of the country more generally, though of course it would have a higher skiing fatality count than most other areas would.

UPDATE: As I noted above, the numbers I gave aren't normalized by the number of participants; I was hoping people might fill that gap in some measure. (I also hope that it's obvious to our readers that without this denominator data, the numerators I give are useful only as a start to answering the question, or at best as a very rough estimate given your rough sense of the order of magnitude of popularity of each activity.)

In the meantime, I did a bit of searching to try to get this information myself; so far, all I've discovered is that in the late 1990s, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported that about 15 million hunting licenses were sold each year. I'd love to hear what people who know more about hunting licenses can say about how overinclusive (do you often need to buy more than one hunting license to hunt more than one kind of game, or more than once?) or underinclusive (is there lots of hunting that doesn't require such a license?) these numbers might be.

FURTHER UPDATE: A reader who identifies himself as Talon Karrde pointed me (thanking Alphecca) to a Texas Parks & Wildlife Report that reports about 30 accidents per million hunting licenses per year in Texas over 2003-05, including under 3 fatal accidents per million hunting licenses. If this information is complete, and each hunter gets one hunting license per year, then we have a rate of 3 deaths per million per year. If every single American swam (obviously an overestimate), then the 1500 swimming fatalities per year would translate into 5 deaths per million per year; if every American boated (obviously even more of an overestimate), then the 800 swimming fatalities per year would translate into under 3 fatal accidents per million swimmers.

So, if my assumptions about completeness of the Texas records and the hunter-hunting license correspondents are correct, and if the Texas data is generalizable to the country as a whole, then hunting would be less dangerous on a per-participant basis than swimming and boating. We still don't know the relationship, though, on a per-hour-spent basis. If people have statistics on number of participants in swimming and boating, or more accurate information on housing, I'd love to hear them.

ptm:
Major ski injuries (like ACL tears) occur at a rate around 1 per thousand skier days. I don't know about inbounds resort fatalities.

Also don't know if backcountry ski/snowboard fatalities are in your numbers. Pulling the avalanche data, I see 2 skiers and 12 snowboarders in 1998/1999, and 9 skiers and 1 boarder in 1999/2000. More recent data is similar - 10-15 per year. (It's lumpy because of fatality patterns - often you have a group of 3-5 get buried together.)
2.17.2006 12:58pm
ptm:
Also, I doubt the Colorado numbers are representative of the US. There's just a ton more outdoor recreation, and more dangerous recreation, there than in most of the country.
2.17.2006 1:00pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
What is with these figures? Chart #1 leaves out jumping horses, pretty risky depending on the height (e.g. Grand Prix). And Chart #2 is in SNOWY colorado, where most people don't even ride, much less jump, horses for over half of the year. Also, since I once sold insurance, I know there are many more activities considered risky, so all in all, these Charts are not very representative and therefore seem to skew any intellingent conclusion one might be able to reach.

Can you find more Charts? Also representative of more areas of the Country? (In CAL, AZ, and FLA, for example, people do outside sports year round, thus, more activity=more risk to more people. Just curious.
2.17.2006 1:10pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
What is with these figures? Chart #1 leaves out jumping horses, pretty risky depending on the height (e.g. Grand Prix). And Chart #2 is in SNOWY colorado, where most people don't even ride, much less jump, horses for over half of the year. Also, since I once sold insurance, I know there are many more activities considered risky, so all in all, these Charts are not very representative and therefore seem to skew any intellingent conclusion one might be able to reach.

Can you find more Charts? Also representative of more areas of the Country? (In CAL, AZ, and FLA, for example, people do outside sports year round, thus, more activity=more risk to more people). Just curious.
2.17.2006 1:10pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Sorry, it double posted.
2.17.2006 1:12pm
Public_Defender:
It looks like sports activities are pretty safe. Over three years, only 211 people died from being active. I wonder how many hundreds died from diseases you get from being inactive (diabetes, heart disease, etc.).
2.17.2006 1:17pm
uh clem (mail):
Elephant in the room: traffic accidents.
2.17.2006 1:26pm
Medis:
This is just an aside, but I've long thought that most modern Americans just don't respect water enough. We grow up with water tamed in our faucets, and we forget what a powerful and dangerous force of nature it can be--and how quickly it can prove fatal.

Which is not to say we should avoid things like recreational swimming, but it doesn't surprise me that a lot of Americans kill themselves every year because of their failure to take water seriously.
2.17.2006 1:28pm
Neal R. (mail):
I don't understand what conclusions we're supposed to draw from this data.
2.17.2006 1:39pm
JGR (mail):
This list leaves out all the more dangerous recreational activities - Hangliding and rock climbing are off the charts in terms of fatalitites per participant. Does anyone know a place on the net that has a list of the relevant figures? (Figures are largely meaningless if they're not injuries/fatalities per participant, not simply annual injuries/fatalities).
Note that the difference between a sport and a recreational activity is frequently blurry but has real-world applications. When a state tried to outlaw bungee jumping a while ago, Jacob Sullum wrote an article in Reason magazine drawing attention to this fact - When bungee jumping was viewed as an extreme sport it was allowed a free pass on the grounds that its participants knew it was a dangerous sport (It actually wasn't, but that's a different story). When it suddenly became popular among large segments of the population, it was treated differently - more of a recreational activity than a sport - The difference being that participants in the latter are more likely to know more about the activity, understand the risks involved. As I said, this is largely arbitrary - hangliding and rock climbing are more generally recreational activities than sports in the traditional sense (a contest with clear rules and a winner or loser each game).
Of course, driving a motorcycle is one of the most dangerous recreational activities around, aside from dating my ex-girlfriend.
2.17.2006 1:39pm
Butter lover (mail) (www):
How dare you counter attacks on the VP by liberals and the MSM with facts!
2.17.2006 1:49pm
Arthur (mail):
Huh. And all week blogers have been saying that hunting accidents are quite common, shooting a friend in the face doesn't indicate the shooter was being careless or anyting, and everyone has an uncle's borther's cousin who took a face full of birdshot from time to time.
2.17.2006 1:49pm
kparker (mail):
Neal R.,

I'm guessing you should feel free to draw your own. :-)
2.17.2006 1:51pm
Jake:
IIRC, paragliding (usually lumped in with hang gliding) is much safer than riding a motorcycle--something like 100 or 1000 times less likely to lead to a fatality. This was a helpful statistic to have when explaining to my mother that I was taking paragliding lessons. Not so helpful when I later decided to buy a motorcycle...
2.17.2006 1:56pm
tdsj:
without normalizing for the number of participants (or maybe for the total amount of time spent on each activity), I don't see how these figures tell us anything at all.
2.17.2006 1:59pm
SLS 1L:
Eugene - given the subject header of your post - "How dangerous are various recreational activities?" - it seems you think these data answer your question, or are at least of some use in answering it. Given that they're not normalized to participants or any proxy therefore, they don't seem to tell us much at all.

Sometimes data can be useful: for example, given the doubtlessly enormous numbers of people who play football, we can safely conclude that football is not very likely to kill you. But these data are pretty much useful for comparison purposes.
2.17.2006 2:00pm
ur_land:

I'm guessing you should feel free to draw your own. :-)


Just like Butter Lover and Arthur, who take the same post and see it as a skewering either the "Liberals and MSM" or the (my summation) "Right Wing Blogosphere." God I love politics.
2.17.2006 2:01pm
SLS 1L:
Correction: "pretty much useless"
2.17.2006 2:17pm
dweeb:
How can one draw any conclusions from these numbers. Fatalities per man-hour of participation numbers are available somewhere, because SCUBA certification agencies have published comparisons of them.
2.17.2006 2:28pm
TallDave (mail) (www):
I think it's time for background checks and a 5-day waiting period for skis, hiking boots, and bicycles.

Think of the children! Won't someone please think of the children?
2.17.2006 2:42pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Medis,

Thanks, I'll never look at a faucet in the same way again.

As to the danger, I'm not a hunter, but I have to wonder if more alcohol wasn't involved than Cheney admits. With three people out hunting, as I believe he said it was, I don't see how you leave one guy behind and then turn around and shoot in that direction without even thinking about it. It's just a strange amount of recklesness for someone of Cheney's age and position.

Then, not going to the hospital, not talking to the police, not telling the President or anyone else until the next day, him admitting that he did in fact drink; I don't see how that doesn't raise questions.

I guess it all could have happened totally sober, just like I guess Ted Kennedy could have driven off a bridge sober. Cheney's explanation of how it happened, though, seems to me to suggest a very strange lack of judgment for a Vice President.
2.17.2006 2:43pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
I know that for ACL tears, the most common skiing injury nowadays (I tore mine at Whistler back in 1997), there are approximately 30,0000 repairs a year in U.S., almost all of them sports related, and mostly from skiing.

1999 must have been a slow year for skier deaths. The average is around 40 a year for North America (including Canada). What I find interesting is how much higher the death rate is in Europe. About the same number of skiers die at the Chamonix ski area in France each year as do in the entire North American Continent. If you've ever skiied in Europe, the differences are obvious. Nobody cares if you ski out of bounds or in closed areas. Nobody is going to yank your ski pass for skiing where you're not supposed to and the ski patrol isn't going to stop you. But if you kill or seriously hurt yourself, even in bounds, there is absolutely no one to blame or sue. The responsibility and expense is entirely yours. The ski areas accept no liability. As a consequence, lift tickets are dirt cheap.
2.17.2006 2:43pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
I'd like to know how one gets killed fishing. Are these people fishing with dynamite? How can fishing be as dangerous as hunting? Are people trying to steal the fish from grizzlies?
2.17.2006 2:48pm
TallDave (mail) (www):
Marcus,

One beer at lunch, and alcohol is a factor?

The guy has had three heart attacks and has a med team follow him around everywhere. It seems very unlikely he was getting hammered before the hunt, during the hunt, or at any time in the last five years.

The local police were informed within the hour, and the medical team immediately. This is not remotely like Ted Kennedy, who had a known drinking problem, going to his lawyers first and waiting four hours to notify anyone, including anyone who might have rescued Mary Jo.
2.17.2006 2:52pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
The guy has had three heart attacks and has a med team follow him around everywhere. It seems very unlikely he was getting hammered before the hunt, during the hunt, or at any time in the last five years.

Oh yeah, like anyone is going to tell Dick Cheney, "Sir, don't you think you've had enough to drink". I think they would get the same response that Pat Leahy got.
2.17.2006 2:55pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Well, I doubt he got hammered, but I also doubt very much he had one beer to drink that day. Maybe someone should ask him what else he drank at that picnic, other than one beer, after a day of hunting and touring the ranch...
2.17.2006 3:02pm
TallDave (mail) (www):
Freder,

You don't think Cheney's doctors would have mentioned heavy drinking might not be a good idea for someone with a serious heart condition?

Marcus,

You're basing that on what exactly? Is there any evidence Cheney was ever a binge drinker?
2.17.2006 3:06pm
Mr Diablo:
Yeah, and the hunting numbers aren't broken down into the following categories:

(1) Drunk Hunting
(2) Most Dangerous Game hunting
(3) Lawyer hunting
(4) Paint Ball Office Picnics gone horribly wrong

What I find amusing is that this story is being spun from contradictory angles by various members of the right and left:

(1) Gun Nuts/Cheney-haters want to argue that these incidents are rare and that hunting is safe, (and therefore something else must have been going on).

(2) Cheney-worshippers/Gun Control Nuts want to argue that these incidents actually happen all the time and are not a big deal (and that they go unreported by hunters because they don't want to expose the real dangers of hunting).

Please, make it all stop.
2.17.2006 3:14pm
KevinM:
Obvious methodological flaw. The hunting statistics completely ignore animal casualties. Makes no difference in Cheney's case, but would in others.
2.17.2006 3:21pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
TellDave,

1. It's not that he was a binge drinker; you hardly have to be a binge drinker to act recklessly under the influence.

2. I've seen it reported that Cheney flunked out of Yale because he was more interested in drinking than studying, but it could be wrong, but it's also not the point.

3. There were three of them out hunting. Two of them left one behind, and then Cheney turns around and shoots in his general direction without thinking. How does that happen? Either Cheney is just extremelely reckless, or he was under the influence.

Hey, I'm not saying accidents can't happen while sober. We all have accidents. The explanation of this one, though, is just bizarre. When I think of how I could turn around and accidentally shoot my friend in the face without considering that we just left him behind, I can only think of one way that would happen: I must have been drunk. Guns, let's not forget, are not toys.

4. Cheney admitted he drank that day. He said one beer. But how believable is that? He's out hunting all day, and the beverage of choice is beer, and he only has one? And then he accidentally shoots his friend?

I'm not being particularly cynical here. If I get pulled over by a cop, whether or not I just shot somebody, and when asked I say "well, I had a beer a few hours ago," I think he's going to be skeptical. I think he has a right to be. And if I then refuse to take a breathalyzer test, I think he has an even stronger reason to be skeptical. Which leads to point 5:

5. After the accident, Cheney stayed out of view for 18 hours, and didn't even accompany Whittington to the hospital. He just shot a guy, and he doesnt' even go with to the hospital, for no explained reason (he said the ambulance was crowded). And then he turns away police who want to interview him, and then doesn't inform anyone outside his circle until the next day.

Is it the same as Chappaquiddick? No, not really. If Whittington actually died, though, I'm not sure it would be that different. While the death involved in Kennedy's action puts it in another league, the fact is that he was also much younger and in less important of a position. And he did not have a group with him that forced him to immediately take some responsibility. So, yes, Cheney could have been worse, but he could have been a lot better too. I'm not sure he earned the right to be let off the hook.
2.17.2006 3:53pm
marghlar:
this is why it has been accurately said that if you own a pool, and a handgun, the pool is much more likely to kill your children...
2.17.2006 4:01pm
llamasex (mail) (www):
Wierd, on the same page we have you saying
So, an elaboration: Correlation doesn't prove causation. But a statement that "the majority of Xs occur at Ys" doesn't even show correlation. It's at best irrelevant, and at worst misleading. Yet I've seen this sort of "evidence" time and again; watch out for it.

Are you testing us?
2.17.2006 4:09pm
TallDave (mail) (www):
1. You have to be under the influence to act under the influence. If he didn't binge, he wasn't under the influence.

2. OK, stipulated. But is there anything more recent than college? That was several decades ago.

3. He was thirty feet away from him, facing the sun, and the guy was in a low place behind weeds. It happens.

4. He had a beer at lunch. It's very believable, as I doubt beer is the "drink of choice" while hunting with a VPOTUS who has a heart condition. And he didn't refuse a breathalyzer, that's just bizarre.

5. Now you're getting to the point of tinfoil conspiracy theories. He wasn't "out of view," he was doing normal VPOTUS stuff. The only sense in which he was "out of view" was that he didn't immediately hold a press conference to demostrate his sobriety to a press corps that loathes him. He had contact with lots of people, none of whom have said he was noticeably inebriated.

"If Whittington actually died, though, I'm not sure it would be that different."

Huh? The problem wasn't the drinking, it was that Mary Jo was left to die while Ted went to his lawyers. Cheney immediately called the medical team.
2.17.2006 4:09pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"I'd like to know how one gets killed fishing."

Probably by getting hooked with the fishook. Ask someone who is clumsy around fish hooks. I can't believe the razors on some of them that tourists cast onto our sailboat. We have to watch where we're walking.
2.17.2006 4:18pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"'If Whittington actually died, though, I'm not sure it would be that different.'"

He says he's "fine," but have people noticed how his eye is swelled partially shut and the big red marks on his neck in today's photos? Ouch!
2.17.2006 4:20pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"I think it's time for background checks and a 5-day waiting period for skis, hiking boots, ... bicycles" and fishooks.
2.17.2006 4:23pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"if you own a pool, and a handgun, the pool is much more likely to kill your children..."

unless you use the handgun to shoot the person who falls into the pool. And then it is the call of the Coroner.
2.17.2006 4:25pm
snoey (mail):
>3. He was thirty feet away from him, facing the sun, and the guy was in a low place behind weeds. It happens.

It happens to people who violate the safety rules.

Those rules are what make shooting sports as safe as they are.

Drunk or sober, Cheney violated a basic one.
2.17.2006 4:38pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
TallDave,

I guess we all come with a different perspective. I bet Kennedy was pretty sure, though, when he got out of there, that there wasn't going to be any saving his companion. I doubt very much that he cynically decided that it didn't matter. It didn't matter if he was drinking? I disagree.
2.17.2006 4:42pm
Apodaca:
How do you get killed fishing? Some suggestions:
- Inattentively letting your boat go over a spillway
- Deliberately driving your boat too close to the base of a dam (in quest of monster striped bass)
- Capsizing or falling out of the boat; extra points if alcohol is involved/no flotation device used/cranial trauma renders victim unconscious
- Lightning strikes
Some data points:
- Capsizing (item 8 is especially undignified)
- Collision with other craft in darkness caused by failure to use proper running lights
- Ice fishing/falls through ice/hypothermia
I suppose the candirú may also be a risk factor for some.
2.17.2006 5:29pm
Chuck (mail) (www):
I'm surprised how many fatalities are reported for parachuting.
2.17.2006 5:40pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Inattentively letting your boat go over a spillway

But boating accidents are covered elsewhere in the list, so I assumed the fishing fatalities exculded those involving boats.

As for Cheney. In my opinion (of course I am an avowed Cheney hater, pro-gun control, but have nothing against people shooting furry and feathered animals if that's what they enjoy), his actions beyond his expected reluctance to speak to the press say to me that he was probably drunk off his ass, as were the rest of the party, when he shot Whittington.

Consider: Cheney didn't go to the hospital. Why not if not to make sure the Sherriff didn't corner him and request a BAC test? Whittington's doctors abruptly ended a press conference earlier in the week when they were asked if a BAC test had been performed on Whittington (which of course it would have as routine if there was the least chance that anethesia, painkillers or sedation was going to be administered) and what the results are. Since I'm not on a jury I will draw conclusions from that silence. Cheney had the Secret Service keep local law enforcement at bay until the next day. If he wasn't drunk and didn't need to get his story straight with everyone else in the party (we had one beer at lunch, nothing thereafter), why the delay. Nope, they needed time to sober up. Not only did he admit to the "one beer" (as noted above, that's always what you tell the cops, no matter how many you've had), he also admitted to having a cocktail after the incident. Again, if the sherriff insisted and got past the Secret Service: "Well, I had a beer at lunch, but nothing else until after the incident, but I've had a couple since I got back so I don't know what good a BAC will do now."

You know what must be the easiest job in the world? Being Dick Cheney's press secretary. You get up every morning and release a statement that says: "The Vice President has no public appearances today and will release no public statements". The rest of your day is free.
2.17.2006 6:16pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Huh? The problem wasn't the drinking, it was that Mary Jo was left to die while Ted went to his lawyers. Cheney immediately called the medical team.

You're being a little melodramatic, aren't you? Kennedy drove off a bridge late at night. The car was completely submerged and he managed to get out while she drowned. He claims he tried to save her but couldn't get her out. Maybe he is lying, maybe he isn't. Probably only he and God know the truth. But one thing is certain. By the time Kennedy got to anyone who could have helped him rescue her, she was already dead.

What he did in the aftermath of the accident and the attempt to cover it up was quite despicable. But as to what actually happened between the time the car went in the creek and when Mary Jo died, there is probably not a soul on this earth other than Ted Kennedy who knows what really happened.
2.17.2006 6:28pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Frederson,

I think it's also worth noting that even if Kennedy were the least caring person in the world, he still would have tried to save her if only to protect himself.

It's not uncommon for Republicans to say things like, "Oh, Kennedy? One word: Chappaquiddick." As long as Democrats stop short of that kind of smearing, I think they're at least being more reasonable than their counterparts.
2.17.2006 6:45pm
mike (mail):
If I recall correctly, Cheney is a right hand shooter, that would mean Mr. W. was in Cheney's blind spot so I doubt he knew anyone was there. Also, with the broad pattern of the shot, Cheney may have maintained the 180 (ie gun downrange, not uprange)but the shot went uprange to strike Mr. W.

I shoot pistols competitively (United States Practical Shooting -- www.uspsa.org) and am a certified Range Officer trained to run a safe range. Frankly, if this occured at a match I don't believe we'd DQ (disqualify) the shooter (cheney) since he didn't break the 180 and didn't knowingly shoot in an unsafe manner, ie at someone strolling downrange.
2.17.2006 7:08pm
Michael Kleber (mail):
Aren't statistics about "fatalities per sport" -- as opposed to, say, "fatalities per 10,000 participants" -- making the same mistake <a rel="nofollow" href="http://volokh.com/posts/1139876032.shtml">you complained about four days ago</a>?
2.17.2006 8:33pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
As I noted in my post, the statistics I give are incomplete, precisely because they don't include the number of participants. I was rather hoping that our often helpful readers might fill some of the gaps.

But in any event, the numerators can be useful, as a very rough measure, if you have a rough sense of the denominator. Hunting, as best I can tell, is a very popular sport; so are boating and swimming. It looks unlikely that hunting is much more dangerous (at least on a per-participant basis, as opposed to, say, a per-hour basis, where the matter is clear) than those other sports, unless we think that boating and swimming are ten times more popular than hunting (which I doubt). Of course, that is indeed a very rough guess.
2.18.2006 1:26am
Kieran Jadiker-Smith (mail):
Judging from the pattern of wounds on Mr. Whittington's face, I've concluded there must have been a second gunman behind the duck blind on the grassy knoll. Go on believing in the magic birdshot if you want to keep living in your fantasy world.

More seriously, I spent some time looking at injury and fatality statistics for various sports while I was trying to convince my family that they shouldn't worry so much about my love of scuba diving, and it was actually pretty difficult finding meaningful numbers I could compare across sports. The number of injuries and fatalities was easy enough to locate, but the number of total person-hours spent in each of those sports -- which would make for the most logical denominator -- was hard to come by. I imagine many more person-hours are spent hunting than scuba diving, and that more person-hours are spent scuba diving than skydiving, but even rough estimates of how many proved wildly inconsistent.

I do remember, from looking at the numbers I could find, that hangliding was more a method of suicide than a, uh, sport. So at minimum I was able tell my family about how scuba diving was a whole lot safer than that.
2.18.2006 7:28am
Steven Joyce (mail):
"I'd love to hear what people who know more about hunting licenses can say about how overinclusive (do you often need to buy more than one hunting license to hunt more than one kind of game, or more than once?) or underinclusive (is there lots of hunting that doesn't require such a license?) these numbers might be."

State practices vary, but I'd guess that the net effect is overinclusion. In Texas, there are separate licenses for hunting and fishing (and separate stamps for archery, freshwater fishing, saltwater fishing with a red drum tag, upland game bird, and migratory game bird), but no further distinctions are made. Contrast with my native Minnesota, where there are separate licenses for bear, deer, elk, moose, small game, turkey, waterfowl, and fish.

On the other hand, there is some underinclusion. Most states sell lifetime licenses in addition to the usual annual licenses, and some individuals are exempt for requiring a hunting licenses (e.g., children and the elderly).
2.18.2006 10:14am
Lucius (mail):
The swimming statistics fail to distinguish between fatalities in supervised pools and people swimming in lakes, or jumping in drunk to pools at parties, etc., much less between fatalities from people who know how to swim and those who do. It's hard to compare these activities, but a better comparison might be between people who know how to swim and are swimming in regulated areas and people who know how to hunt and are hunting game with licenses and appropriate firearms. I suspect that most of the swimming fatalities are from people who don't know how to swim.
2.18.2006 10:35am
Omaha1:
The question of what causes non-boat-related, recreational fishing fatalities is interesting. Fishing fatalities may result from falls on slippery or unstable rocks (presumably causing head injuries), falling from the shore or dock into water and drowning, or getting stuck in soft mud and drowning. Becoming submerged in water while wearing waders of any kind is very dangerous, since the waders quickly fill with water and become very heavy, holding the fisherman down under the water. Fishhook injuries may be severe in some cases, depending on the location of the injury, but are never fatal.

Also,hunting-related injuries and deaths are not limited to shootings. They also include falls from tree stands, or on rough terrain; drownings from falling into water in pursuit of living or dead game; exposure or hypothermia from becoming lost in the woods; heart attacks caused by overexertion; and even attacks by animals.

As the owner of a bait shop adjacent to a state-owned lake, I am acutely conscious of water safety. Many of our customers are unaware of the depth of the water close to shore, and allow their very young children to play on a dock floating in 15 feet of murky, weed-filled water. During the summer, I am constantly running out of the store with small life vests in hand, admonishing the parents to please, please be careful. They just aren't thinking, and not thinking can lead to tragedy.

Oh, and as regards Cheney's missing bird stamp - in Nebraska, to hunt birds legally, you must purchase a state hunting permit, a "habitat stamp", a federal stamp, and register with the federal "HIP" program, a system devised to track the harvesting of migratory birds. This requires at least three separate actions on the part of the hunter. It is pretty easy to understand how an out-of-state hunter might overlook some part of the process. Plus, the laws can be different if you are hunting on private versus public lands.
2.18.2006 10:48am
Jam (mail):
My understaning on the reporting of the incident were:

1) Mr. Whittington was avoer 50yrds away. Later it was changed to about 30 yrds.

That is, the distance was cut from an original report of over 150ft away to about 60ft. That is a BIG change in the reported facts.

2) A 28 guge shotgun was used. Later I heard that it was a 20 gauge, then back to 28 guage. What was it?

3) That #5 shot was used. Is this correct?

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I think that this accident is not being reported accurately by the people involved.

=====================================================

I was at my wife’s uncle’s house. The cousins and some friends (all teenagers at the time) were in a bedroom when a friend got shot, point blank, with a pellet rifle. He came out in shock, pale. I just though that he was scared and that it was probably no big deal. All we had to do is just get the pellet out from under the skin. My wife’s uncle came into the house and immediately took the teenager to Emergency Room where the kid was then taken into emergency surgery. The pellet had lodged in the pericardium. I was told that the doctors said that the boy almost died in the OR. I almost cost that boy his life had it not been for someone else’s proper response. I still shudder to remember.
2.18.2006 12:41pm
Jam (mail):
Ahhhh! avoer => over
2.18.2006 12:44pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"How do you get killed fishing? Some suggestions:
- Inattentively letting your boat go over a spillway
- Deliberately driving your boat too close to the base of a dam (in quest of monster striped bass)
- Capsizing or falling out of the boat; extra points if alcohol is involved/no flotation device used/cranial trauma renders victim unconscious
- Lightning strikes"

Catching a fish big enought to eat you (Jaws).
2.18.2006 4:03pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"As I noted in my post, the statistics I give are incomplete, precisely because they don't include the number of participants. I was rather hoping that our often helpful readers might fill some of the gaps.

But in any event, the numerators can be useful, as a very rough measure, if you have a rough sense of the denominator. Hunting, as best I can tell, is a very popular sport; so are boating and swimming."

Point #1: Some of us tried to fill in the gaps. No equestrians among the elite (as Article II Groupie defines) it seems.

Point #2: Equestrian sports are extremely popular as well ... a $40 B impact on U.S. Economy. Click here for study
2.18.2006 4:10pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
I'm not knocking hunting or anything, but it should also be noted a high significance of risk for equestrian activities is being shot by hunters while riding in the woods.
2.18.2006 4:13pm
Scaldis Noel:
Regarding all of the speculation on the facts of the incident (was he drunk?, what was the distance?, what type of gun was being used?, etc.), I suggest using the old adage, "the simplest explanation is usually the correct one." The simplest explanation in my view is this:

1) Dick Cheney told the truth in his interview with Brit Hume (one beer with lunch and therefore not intoxicated).
2) The distance was approximately 30 yards (but it may have been a little closer or farther away). Probably nobody measured the distance precisely because it wasn't essential to determining what happened.
3) The gun being used was a 28 gauge (and any stories to the contrary were either speculation or misquoting).
4) It was an accident resulting from Mr. Whittington not following procedure by announcing his return to the line of hunters, and Mr. Cheney making a mistake in firing at the far edge of what he mistakenly thought was a safe direction to fire.
5) The VP didn't consider holding a press conference to announce the incident 15 minutes after it happened because he doesn't think that the Washington press corp is as important as they think they are.
2.18.2006 6:24pm
Johnny Upton (mail):
tate practices vary, but I'd guess that the net effect is overinclusion. In Texas, there are separate licenses for hunting and fishing (and separate stamps for archery, freshwater fishing, saltwater fishing with a red drum tag, upland game bird, and migratory game bird), but no further distinctions are made. Contrast with my native Minnesota, where there are separate licenses for bear, deer, elk, moose, small game, turkey, waterfowl, and fish.

In Minnesota you buy a small game license and then tags and or stamps for the game you wish to harvest (Deer tag, pheasant stamp, etc). The number in the link provided by prof Volkh does not double dip for multiple tags/stamps. Compare the number of deer tags (only) sold in ’04 of nearly 700,000 and I would think that its highly unlikely that they are counting every license, tag and stamp as an unique license.

This is consistent with the states I’ve hunted in.


Where the number is/may be overstated (slightly) is a hunter buying hunting license in multiple states though I would think that this would be fairly small.
2.18.2006 8:56pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"Article II Groupie"=Article III Groupie.

It is too bad the methods available for editing posts as one is posting them are so limited. A barrier for the disabled.
2.19.2006 2:49am
Public_Defender:
I think we're being overly kind to the VP by calling this "hunting." The quayle were stocked,* he had people go track down the quayle, he then drove to the location, got out of a car, and shot at the quayle.

That sounds like skeet shooting to me.

Imagine what the Republicans would say if John Kerry went "hunting" like this.

If this is "hunting," it's "hunting" for wimps.


*I've read several places that the quayle were stocked, not no place in the MSM, so it may be incorrect. The rest of the scenerio is enough to deserve to be called "skeet shooting" or "'hunting' for wimps."
2.20.2006 9:36am
Don Miller (mail):
I am currently working on my Basic EMT certification. Part of the class was spent on HIPPA training.

HIPPA has had an effect on what medical professionals and hospitals can say about patients.

Even in a public event, such as this one, Medical professionals can not reveal certain kinds of information without patient approval. As a normal rule, the hospital can't even tell someone if you are a patient, much less what is wrong with you, without specific instructions from you.

Some people speculate that the hospital's refusal to discuss Mr. Whittington's BAC was to protect Mr. Cheney. I would argue that without specific guidance from Mr Whittington, the hospital spokesman couldn't mention the results from most of his blood tests.

In otherwords, Mr Whittington gave them permission to talk about his injuries, but not about his blood tests, therefore they couldn't. It isn't a grand conspiracy, just an unintended side effect of a Federal Law, authored by a Democrat (T. Kennedy, MA)
2.20.2006 11:12am