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IL: One hunter accidentally shoots second outside Alton

April 07, 2011

ALTON — An East Alton man suffered shotgun pellet injuries Thursday morning when he was shot accidentally by a second hunter while they were looking for turkey near the Illinois Boots and Saddle Club just outside Alton.

The wounded man, identified as Robert Pitchford, 64 of East Alton, suffered shotgun pellet injuries to his upper torso and face after being shot about 8 a.m. in a secluded area south of the club. His injuries were not considered to be life-threatening.

The injured man was talking to rescuers, complaining of not being able to see out of one eye.

Rescuers from the Fosterburg Fire Department, the Madison County Sheriff’s Department and the Alton Police Department responded. The jurisdiction was decided to be that of the Sheriff’s Department.

A deputy said the hunters had arrived at the scene together and then separated to look for game.

Capt. Brad Wells of the Sheriff’s Department said the two friends were about 25 yards apart when the accident occurred.

Wells said that because Pitchford was hunting turkey, he was not required to wear a bright orange vest, as is required in some types of deer hunting.

The different requirement is because of the type of ammunition normally used and the difference in the eyesight of the two species of animals. Turkeys, unlike deer, have color vision.

Rescuers had to go down a private lane, across a field and into woods to reach the victim, perhaps one-eighth of a mile from Harris Lane.

Pitchford had to be carried by stretcher several hundred yards to an ambulance, Wells said.

Pitchford was taken to the hospital by Alton Memorial Ambulance and then flown by a helicopter from ARCH Air Medical Services Inc. to a St. Louis hospital, where he was listed in stable condition Thursday afternoon.

Wells said the Sheriff’s Department responded to a 911 call at 8:03 a.m. The call came from an area in the 3000 block of Harris Lane in Foster Township.

The two men were hunting on private property they had leased. The second hunter has not been identified.

An officer from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources also was requested to respond.

"Detectives with the sheriff’s office and an Illinois DNR Conservation Police officer continue to investigate, but it appears to be strictly an accident," Wells said.

According to the IDNR website, the first week of the spring turkey hunting season in Southern Illinois is April 4 through 8.

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