MD: Hunter mistaken for deer, shot by companion
December 4, 2010
Hunter mistaken for deer, shot by companion Baltimore man in critical
condition after Dorchester Co. accident; charges possible
A 56-year-old Baltimore County man was in critical condition at Shock
Trauma in Baltimore on Saturday after being accidentally shot Friday
afternoon while hunting with a friend in Dorchester County on the Eastern
Maryland Natural Resources police said Darryl James Patrylak of Bear
Creek was shot by his companion, Gerald Edward Merkle, 58, of Parkville, who
was in a tree stand with a 30.06 rifle. Patrylak was wearing camouflage
clothing, but not a reflective safety vest or cap, police said, and Merkle
mistook him for a deer.
The men were hunting on Buck Ridge Road in Wingate, near Blackwater
National Wildlife Refuge, when the accident occurred around 3:30 p.m.
Patrylak was airlifted to the hospital, and the investigation is continuing,
police said. A woman who answered the phone at the Merkle residence declined
to comment, and there was no answer at the Patrylak home.
Natural Resources police spokesman Sgt. Art Windemuth said all hunters
are required to wear fluorescent orange clothing while hunting, and once the
agency's investigation of the incident is complete, both men could be
subject to charges of negligent hunting and reckless endangerment.
"The two cardinal rules of firearms safety are to treat every gun as if
it is loaded, and never point a weapon at anything you don't intend to
shoot," Windemuth said. Beyond that, hunters should be familiar with their
weapon and always aware of what lies beyond their target. Last year a hunter
in Clarksville, Howard County, fired a shot at a deer that missed and broke
the window of an occupied day care center.
Windemuth said most hunting accidents are caused by falls from tree
stands. "More people are injured playing badminton than in hunting
accidents," he said.
So far this year, three hunters have been killed in falls, while Patrylak
is only the second person injured in a firearms accident. The other firearms
incident involved a man using a single-shot muzzle-loading rifle that
accidentally discharged as he rammed home the shot, sending the ramrod
through his arm.
In 2009, one hunting accident was fatal, when a 46-year old man died
after falling 15 feet from a tree stand. Eight people were injured,
including six who fell from tree stands.
If hunters used a safety vest that ties them to a line attached to the
tree stand, they would be protected from falls, Windemuth said. Called a
full restraint system, the body harness is a vest that uses two belts around
the waist and one around each leg. Another belt with a metal link at the end
is then clipped to a rope loop attached to a line from the tree stand. If
the hunter falls, the line keeps him from crashing to the ground.
This year's two-week firearm deer hunting season ends Saturday, though
another muzzle-loading and then a bow and arrow hunting period follow.
Return to Hunting Accident Index
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