Teen duck hunter survives after getting grazed by shotgun blast

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An 18-year-old Minnesota man is described as "lucky to be alive" after surviving a shotgun blast that hit the side of his head.

On Sunday, Derek Bonsante was on a canoe in Emily, Minnesota, when some ducks flew toward him. The Shakopee hunter stood up on the craft just as some fellow hunters ashore were taking aim at the birds, according to the Brainerd Dispatch.

Their ensuing shotgun blast grazed his head, prompting his party to get help, the paper says.

The Shakopee Valley News notes he was responsive and alert when first responders arrived, and was taken to the Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crow Wing County. He was soon released.

The publication said Bonsante was "lucky to be alive" after the accident.

Dangers of hunting

The teen's close call serves as a reminder that duck hunting – or any outdoor activity involving firearms – can carry potential risks.

For this reason, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources requires most hunters to wear blaze orange, which makes them highly visible to other hunters. In a statement released at the beginning of this year's waterfowl season, the agency reminds hunters that "at least one visible article of clothing above the waist must be blaze orange when taking small game."

However, those hunting migratory waterfowl from a duck blind or on water are exempt from the rule, according to the news release.

"Making a blaze orange fashion statement this fall might not get you on the best-dressed list, but it just might save your life," the DNR said.

Another recommendation comes from Ducks Unlimited, which says hunters should always inform someone where they're going, and when they're going to return. You can read all their hunting safety tips here.

Despite the safety issues inherent in the sport, a pro-shooting sports group argues it's relatively safe.

According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, of the more than 16 million people who engaged in firearm hunting in 2011, their statistics say less than 7,000 were injured.

Far more people were injured playing basketball that year, though only about 12 million participated in the sport, the statistics say. The group notes a person is 30 times more likely to be hurt "in cheerleading or baseball than hunting."

Furthermore, "unintentional firearms fatalities" are at an all-time low, the report states.

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