With one weekend of firearms deer hunting season still to go, the number of people killed in hunting accidents this year is already the highest it's been since 2011.
The latest incident this past weekend saw the body of 25-year-old Blake Larson, of Nielsville, Minnesota, discovered in Shelly with a gunshot wound to the chest, according to Valley News Live.
That brings the death toll in Minnesota this hunting season to three, after a 68-year-old man and a 50-year-old man were killed in Carlton and Mahnomen counties respectively on opening weekend.
Prior to this year's firearms hunting season, the Star Tribune reported that hunting has become an increasingly safe pursuit, thanks in part of improved gun training and stricter clothing rules that require all hunters to wear a blaze-orange tops and hats.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources told Inforum that two to three hunting deaths per year is around average for the state, but the three deaths this year is the highest since 2011, when four people were killed, according to DNR figures.
Although the number of deaths has risen compared to recent years, the number of overall hunting injuries this year is relatively low, with just five reported incidents so far this season, DNR data shows. Overall in 2013 and 2012, there were 17 and 20 incidents respectively.
Bad season in North Dakota
Fatalities are even rarer in North Dakota, Inforum reports, but this year's hunting season has been tinged with tragedy after a 15-year-old from Minot died in a hunting accident on opening day, November 7.
There have been eight hunting incidents and one fatality this year, the newspaper reports, which is the highest it has been since 2008, when there were 10 incidents and 2 fatalities.
Like in Minnesota, North Dakota hunting education coordinator John Mazur says the sport is significantly safer now than in previous decades because of the introduction of compulsory firearms safety classes.
In fact, the most common cause of hunting injuries do not involve firearms at all, but is caused by people falling out of tree stands, according to WCCO.
The Star Tribune reports that an estimated one in three people who hunt from tree stands can expect to be hurt in a fall at some point during their lives.