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Safe Hunting?

Hunter Shooting at Deer Hits House

Penn Live, PA

Tuesday, December 23, 2003


Of Our Dillsburg Bureau

DILLSBURG - Just before the bullet whizzed past his head, George Stitzel had been having a typical Thursday afternoon, sitting in his living room, reading his paper.

About 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 10, a bullet from a high-powered rifle burst through Stitzel's living room window, angled across the room and took out the dining room window as it left the house.

The bullet passed about three inches above the top of Stitzel's head, apparently fired by a Carlisle-area man shooting at a whitetail deer.

"I ran outside and yelled that he had shot through my house," he said. "My grandson went out through the field and got the guy. He was apologetic. But that wouldn't have brought me back to life if he'd hit me."

A game protector cited Edward Lee Paynter, 32, of Carlisle, for shooting twice into the 150-yard "safety zone" that state hunting regulations require near any inhabited structure. One of those shots was the one that nearly hit Stitzel.

Stitzel said Paynter was cooperative and apologetic.

"He offered to pay for replacing the windows," Stitzel said.

Jerry Feaser, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, said that with a million or so hunters in the field every season, such incidents happen, but are rare.

"There were 68 hunting-related shooting incidents last year," he said. "In 65 of those, the victims were also hunting, and three involved victims who were doing something other than hunting," he said.

One of those victims in the latter group was fatally injured, he said.

"Obviously, though such incidents are rare, we view any incident as one too many," he added. "Hunters need to always be cognizant of where they are shooting."

Paynter said he was not aware that he had been firing into a safety zone, but declined to comment further.

Paynter was fined $200, plus $10 in court costs at the office of District Justice Richard T. Thomas in Dillsburg.  

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