PA: Hunting accident report
May 4, 2010
Turkey hunter still in critical condition Agency won't identify shooter
NEW BERLIN — A Union County man who remains hospitalized in critical
condition was one of two turkey hunters shot on the opening day of the
spring gobbler season.
Turkey hunting is the most accident-prone type of hunting, experts say.
According to state Game Commission statistics, there were 12 people
accidentally shot while hunting deer in 2009, and 10 accidentally shot while
hunting turkeys. But there were twice as many deer hunters as turkey
While exact statistics were not available, the Game Commission estimates
that there were about 850,000 deer hunters and a total of 422,000 turkey
hunters — about 239,000 during spring gobbler season and about 183,000 in
The main danger comes when hunters shoot too hastily at movement, said
Pennsylvania Game Commission spokesman Jerry Feaser.
"Hunters must first identify their bird as legal," he said.
According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission Web site, it is illegal to
shoot a female turkey, or a hen, in the spring. Hunters must look for the
beard of the male gobblers.
"Some people are looking for sound or movement, not a bearded bird,"
This was the case when a New Berlin man was shot with a shotgun early
Saturday morning when he was hunting in Limestone Township, Union County.
Michael Hobbins was wounded in the upper body by a man who was also
hunting gobblers. Hobbins is in critical condition at Geisinger Medical
Shooter's name withheld
Phone calls to Hobbin's residence went unanswered and Game Commission
officials would not disclose the name of the shooter.
Feaser said the agency will not release the shooter's name until a
determination is made regarding whether to file charges in connection with
The same day Hobbins was shot, a 67-year-old man was killed in a turkey
hunting accident in Bradford County.
According to The Towanda Review, a 77-year-old old man was using a turkey
call when he heard something approaching from the rear, saw red movement and
turned to make the kill. The victim was wearing a red shirt under a
It is not a requirement to wear bright orange hunting clothing when
looking for a gobbler, even though the Game Commission recommends wearing it
However, a spokesman for the National Wild Turkey Federation, a nonprofit
conservation and hunting organization, said orange could be dangerous to
The bright orange makes it too easy to mistake a person for a turkey, the
spokesman, Brent Lawrence, said.
Don't wear red
Lawrence said when hunting for turkeys that it is important to "never
wear anything in the red family," blue or white.
"Wear full camouflage," he said.
Lawrence said, despite the number of accidental shootings, turkey hunting
is still one of the safest sports.
"It all comes to making good decisions," he said. "When you shoot a
turkey, you aim for the head/neck area."
However, when trying to call turkeys, hunters can mistake another
hunter's turkey call for a real turkey's call, Lawrence said.
"That's why you have to identify your target," he said. "If someone sees
the movement and hears the call, they could act on impulse."
Lawrence added that hunters should never shoot a turkey from farther than
40 yards away.
"If you can't see the beard and the head very clearly, there's no way you
can make a judgment that you're shooting a gobbler," he said.
According to Game Commission statistics, the number of shooting accidents
while hunting turkeys is declining in Pennsylvania, while the sport's
popularity is rising.
In 2008, there were 10 nonfatal accidents and no fatal accidents. In
1986, there were 26 nonfatal accidents and three fatal accidents in
The number of turkey hunters in the U.S. has risen from about 2.4 million
10 years ago to about 3 million today.
In Pennsylvania, gobblers can legally be hunted from May 1 to 31. Bag
limit is one a day with a total limit of two.
Return to Hunting Accident Index
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