The logic of fish and game departments in some states has long been that once the human population gets too dense in a given area it is safer to limit the use of rifles for hunting, and instead require hunters to use shotguns instead.
This was long the case in Wisconsin, and then they looked at the actual data:
The popular belief was that shotgun use by hunters in the deer season resulted in fewer shooting incidents. However, recent studies have changed the thinking on the relative safety of various firearms.
According to a 2003 DNR survey, about 76% of Wisconsin hunters used a rifle and 24% used a shotgun as their primary firearm to hunt deer.
But data obtained in gun deer seasons from 1998-2008 show 42% of shooting incidents involved shotguns.
The disproportionate number of injuries related to shotgun use had led the DNR to push for easing rifle restrictions.
Most of the shooting incidents would have occurred no matter what type of firearm was used, according to the DNR.
It’s a bit disturbing, in that it suggests that the problem “incidents” occurred at close range, suggesting a hunter safety and education issue. All firearms pose risks in the hands of unsafe hunters, and just because have the right the to own firearms in this country, you aren’t born with the ability to use them safely. No matter where you are, the four rules apply.
On the bright side, the studies have affirmed that safe hunters are safe no matter what firearm they pick up, and the state is recognizing that fact, which is a big win for Wisconsin hunters.