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Teen Hunter Shot Climbing Into Tree Stand

November 28, 2011

From WTAE.com

14-Year-Old Shot In Elizabeth Township During Day 1 Of Deer Season

ELIZABETH TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- A teenager was shot while hunting with his father in Elizabeth Township on the first day of firearms deer season in Pennsylvania.

Police told Channel 4 Action News that the 14-year-old was shot in the leg as he was climbing into a tree stand on Scenery Drive. His father had to carry him out of the woods.

"They were hoisting shotguns up into a tree stand, but one of the shotguns accidentally discharged and struck the juvenile in his right thigh," said Police Chief Robert McNeilly.

The boy was taken to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh for surgery.

"Luckily, the shot went into the muscle. He had full movement of his foot, and he'll have use of his leg," said Beth Fife, a wildlife conservation officer with the Pennsylvania Game Commission. "The slug is embedded in the back of his knee, so they're going to operate and take that out, but he'll walk again."

Fife said the accident was almost fatal, because the shot hit close to the boy's femoral artery.

"If it had been an inch higher, he would have bled out," she said.

Wildlife officials said the incident was preventable.

"You do not pull a loaded firearm into a tree stand," said Regis Denne, of the Game Commission.

"They shouldn't have been hoisting shotguns that were loaded with one in the chamber or with the safety in the off position," McNeilly said.

"You can tell the father talks about safety, and wants to teach his kid right and everything, and he said, 'I don't know why I loaded the guns,' "
Fife said.

Denne stressed that safety is key when planning to hunt.

"This is very, very unusual. Hunting is really a safe sport if the rules are followed," Denne said.

"If you're in a tree stand, they stay unloaded until you get them up in the tree stand, you get yourself belted in, you get yourself attached to the tree stand. Then, when you're all settled and ready to go, then you load your guns," Fife said.

Wildlife officials expect about 1 million hunters will try to bring home a trophy, and that more than 700,000 buck tags have been sold, as well as more than 800,000 doe tags.

"The best thing is to have an area scouted out. You're going to look for buck signs, with the buck rubs on the tree where they mark their territory and stuff," Fife said.

According to wildlife officials, hunters should be sure to wear 250 square inches of fluorescent orange, which amounts to about the amount of fabric a hat and a full orange vest.

Officials also remind hunters to be aware of safety zones, which are 150 yards for a shotgun and 50 yards for archery or a crossbow.

The season ends Dec. 10.

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