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AL: Hunting accidents

December 13, 2009

Outdoors: Never take hunting safety for granted

... Fortunately, as of Dec. 7, there had been no firearms-related hunting fatalities in the state this season. There have been four non-fatal incidents involving firearms, however.

The most recent incident occurred during a hunting trip in Jackson County, Metzler said. The preliminary report states a hunter in a duck blind pulled his gun to him with the barrel pointed toward him when it discharged, badly injuring him in the upper thigh.

Metzler said another incident in Perry County occurred when a male and female were sitting next to a tree while squirrel hunting. When they started to get up, the male's shotgun discharged, striking the female in the chest.

During the 2008-2009 seasons, there were three firearms-related fatalities, two during deer season and one during turkey season.

Metzler said the first fatality, in Coosa County, occurred when the subject broke the cardinal rule about unloading firearms when entering or exiting a stand.

"The subject had shot a deer, and while he was descending the stand, there was an accidental discharge and he shot himself," Metzler said. "I don't know that they ever recovered a deer. Witnesses said they heard two shots about 30 seconds apart."

The second fatality occurred in Baldwin County when a 24-year-old shot his stepfather. A Baldwin County grand jury handed down a criminally negligent homicide indictment against the shooter in October.

According to Baldwin County Sheriff's Department reports, neither hunter was wearing the required hunter orange. The shot occurred about 5:30 p.m. Jan. 22. According to U.S. Naval Observatory information, sunset occurred at 5:18 p.m. on that date. Alabama's hunting regulation dealing with shooting hours for deer states hunting is allowed "during daylight hours only." It does not specify sunset as the cutoff point.

"As far as hunter safety goes, the cardinal rules that were apparently broken were shooting in dim-light conditions, not wearing hunter orange and not properly identifying your target," Metzler said.

The third fatality occurred during turkey season when a hunter suffered a fatal gunshot wound while crossing a fence.

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