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MS - Deer hunting accidents claim 4 lives

2 die on New Year's Eve

Bobby Cleveland bcleveland@clarionledger.com  January 6, 2008

Lloyd Bullock's year had a nightmare start.

"When I walked into the office on Wednesday, I found four accident reports from the holidays including two fatalities sitting on my desk," said Bullock, hunting safety/education coordinator for the state's wildlife agency.

"We had two hunters to die in separate accidents on New Year's Eve. All I could think about was the pain and suffering two families were facing heading into a new year. It is sad."

The deaths involved a tree stand fall in Kemper County and a firearm incident at Sunflower Wildlife Management Area in Sharkey County.

"Our accident investigation in the incident at Sunflower is still underway, but it involves a man being shot by a member of his hunting party," Bullock said. "He was on a horse and was struck by a single pellet of buckshot. The victim was wearing orange."

The two deaths on New Year's Eve brings the total fatality number to four since the start of the hunting season, Bullock said, and all four involved deer hunting.

"We've had two deer stand falls to result in death (the other in Hinds County) and two deaths related to firearms," Bullock said. "In the other firearm incident in Webster County, the victim and the shooter were related."

The total number of reported accidents, including all forms of hunting, has risen to 20, 8 involving firearms and 12 tree stands.

"Oddly enough, we've had two self-inflicted firearm injuries where the victims shot themselves in the foot," Bullock said. "That emphasizes the need to control the muzzle of your gun. Never point it at anything that you do not intend to shoot."

The 2007-08 accident rate is nearly identical to 2006-07.

"Amazingly similar, almost scary," Bullock said. "Two weeks ago we had the same number at the same time last year. We are even again now with 20 to the point we were at this time last year."

Last year's season totals, through the spring turkey season, were 27 total incidents with four fatalities. This year's dozen tree stand falls already exceeds last year's total of 11.

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