OH: Hunter shot, loses eye
This could happen to you
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
By W. H. "Chip" Gross
Special to ESPNOutdoors.com
It felt and sounded like a firecracker exploding in my left ear. I was
knocked down, but not unconscious, and my mind immediately tried to figure
out what was wrong, what was happening.
At first, I thought my shotgun had blown apart. I had been turkey hunting
and carrying the 12 gauge on a sling over my shoulder and thought that one
of the three-inch magnum shells in the magazine had detonated for some
But I had been carrying the gun over my right shoulder, so why were my
left arm and the left side of my face stinging as if a thousand hornets were
I remember sitting up and seeing my camouflaged shotgun lying intact on
the ground. It was then that my mind registered the terrifying and
unbelievable fact: "I've been shot!"
Within seconds I could hear brush cracking about 30 yards uphill from
where I lay. "Help!" I yelled in a coarse voice that didn't sound quite like
"Where are ya?" came a reply from up the hill.
"Down here," I said. "You shot me ..."
A plaid-shirted hunter stepped from a downed treetop and yelled, "Where
ya hit?" "I'm hit in the head. Go get help!"
"Where should I go?" he asked without coming closer, his voice now
starting to quaver. "There's a farmhouse over the hill. Go get help!" I
"Oh, my Gawd ...," he said, and I could hear him running away through the
woods. I could only hope that he was not leaving me for good.
It was then that the heaviest bleeding started. The leaves on the forest
floor beneath my head were quickly covered with blood, and I remember
thinking, "I'm bleeding too much, I might die here."
I said a short prayer - "Jesus, help ..." - and then took a handkerchief
from my pocket and pressed it to my head. The cloth quickly filled with
blood, but within a few minutes the bleeding began to subside.
However, it was then that my left eye gradually began filling with blood.
It's a strange feeling watching your eyesight grow dimmer and dimmer until
it's eventually gone.
That hunting accident happened to me May 5, 1986, in Ohio's Mohican
Memorial State Forest. I was hit with some 20 pellets from the other
hunter's shotgun at about 30 steps.
I still carry most of those lead shot with me today in my left upper arm,
neck, and the left side of my face. The doctors said that it would do more
damage to remove the pellets than leave them in.
But my left eye suffered the worst of my injuries - a pellet had
penetrated the eyeball.
Unfortunately, after three surgeries over a period of several months, I
permanently lost all sight in that eye.
One irony of the incident was that at the time I worked for the Ohio
Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, as a certified hunter
education instructor. I trained new instructors who in turn taught students
hunter safety. And I always thought that if I hunted safely, I'd never be
involved in a hunting accident. But now I was a statistic.
Return to Hunting Accident Index
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