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WV: Turkey hunter killed in accidental shooting

October 26, 2009

West Virginia Turkey hunter killed in accidental shooting knew man who fired shot

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A Jefferson County man who was killed in a hunting accident Saturday in Hampshire County had hunted for years on the property owned by the man who fired the fatal gunshot, the victim's brother said Monday night.

Andy Bennett, the brother of Herald Hart Bennett of Charles Town, said he was informed of his brother's death Saturday while at a West Virginia University football game in Morgantown, W.Va.

His mother called to tell him, Andy Bennett said.

"She said, 'Hart's dead,'" Bennett said Monday.

"I was kinda in shock for a minute. She said, 'You need to come home,'" Bennett said.

Herald Hart Bennett, 26, was killed when he was shot in the right side with a bullet from a rifle fired by David Clarke Butler, 61, of Inwood, W.Va., according to the state Division of Natural Resources.

Andy Bennett said his father and Butler were close friends.

The shooting occurred in an area known as Fox's Hollow along the South Branch of the Potomac River near Romney, W.Va., according to the DNR and Andy Bennett. Butler, who has a cabin in the area, took a shot at a turkey on the first day of the fall season and missed. The bullet struck Bennett, according to the DNR.

Bennett was walking on a roadway below Butler when the shooting occurred at about 8:30 a.m., the DNR said.

Heavy brush, rain and fog contributed to the shooting, the DNR said. Attempts to reach the DNR for more information were unsuccessful.

Andy Bennett said when he arrived at his parents' Charles Town home Saturday, Butler, his wife and members of the Bennett family were there.

He said Butler has met with Bennett family members several times since the shooting.

"We all know it's an accident. It doesn't do a whole lot to soften the blow," Andy Bennett said.

Herald Hart Bennett was a 2001 graduate of Jefferson High School and a 2006 graduate of West Virginia University, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in agricultural studies.

He raised Angus cattle on Kabletown Road, where he leased property for his farming operations, Andy Bennett said.

He was also an auctioneer with Kable Auctioneer and worked for The Bennett Agency in Charles Town, an insurance company owned by his father, Herald Francis "Chip" Bennett.

Andy Bennett described his brother as strong-willed and as an "old-fashioned kind of guy." People often thought his brother was older than his age, Andy Bennett said.

"(It) sounds like a cliché, but he was one of a kind," Andy Bennett said.

Bennett said his brother had hunted on Butler's property for about 13 years, and that he and Butler also enjoyed fly-fishing together.

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