Firearm-related hunting fatalities in North Carolina: impact of the 'Hunter Orange' Law

South Med J. 1996 Apr;89(4):395-6. doi: 10.1097/00007611-199604000-00008.


In the decade spanning 1983 through 1992, 68 people were killed by firearms while hunting in North Carolina (average of 1.66 fatalities/100,000 licenses issued). Of these, 58 deaths involved two parties, a shooter and a victim. In 22% of the incidents the victims were mistaken for game. During the 1987-1988 hunting season a "Hunter Orange" law was initially enforced. This law requires sportsmen to wear an article of bright orange clothing while hunting. After enactment of this law, a reduction in the incidence of hunters being killed because they were "mistaken for game" has proven statistically significant. The present study documents that legally mandating bright orange clothing has resulted in fewer firearms-related fatalities due to the victim's being mistaken for game while hunting. The North Carolina experience implies that governmental intervention can influence the incidence of accidental deaths during recreational hunting.

MeSH terms

  • Clothing*
  • Color
  • Firearms*
  • Humans
  • Legislation as Topic
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Recreation*
  • Safety* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Wounds, Gunshot / mortality*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / prevention & control*