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Shooting carelessly can be costly

July 5, 2011
By Kenneth Cobb , The Inter-Mountain

This past Dec. 24, I had a column about a hunting accident that took place on the first day of buck gun season in Doddridge County. This hunter was initially charged with shooting at game not clearly visible, not wearing the required amount of blaze orange during the deer gun season, hunting on posted acreage without the written permission of the landowner, negligent shooting resulting in the wounding of a human being, and being a person prohibited from having possession of a firearm because of a past domestic battery conviction from another county. I concluded that column saying that I would try to keep up with the outcome of this case.

On June 15, this shooter had his day before a magistrate in Doddridge County. The charges of insufficient blaze orange and hunting without permission were dismissed. The shooter entered a guilty plea to shooting at game not clearly visible. For this, he was fined $100 plus $160.80 in court costs and given 10 days in a regional jail. He also entered a guilty plea to negligent shooting resulting in the wounding of a human being. He was fined $100 plus $160.80 in court costs and was given one year in a regional jail. He was also ordered to pay approximately $36,400 of restitution charges to the victim.

The victim was hit in the left hip, and the bullet exited through the buttocks. Fortunately, there were no internal injuries or bone damage. The shooter was using a .270 Winchester. This is a high intensity cartridge that has always been regarded as an efficient deer slayer. The type of ammunition or bullets the shooter was most likely using were the ones that are made to destroy tissue to ensure a quick humane kill in deer-sized animals.

The victim was airlifted to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. There, he had to have emergency room services and emergency surgery. He also had to remain in the hospital for a few days recuperating.

The shooter entered a no contest plea to being a person prohibited from possessing a firearm and was fined $100 plus $160.80 court costs and given 90 days in a regional jail. The county magistrate turned the jail time into home confinement.

In total, the shooter is going to have to pay about $800 in fines and court costs. He is going to be on home confinement for a year and 100 days, and he will have to pay approximately $36,400 in restitution to the victim.

I remember taking a hunter safety course at the Elkins Operations Center about 25 years ago. The conservation officer in charge made this statement when the class was about to adjourn, "If you miss that big buck or turkey, you can live that down in due time. But, if you shoot yourself or someone else because of a moment of carelessness, you will live with that for the rest of your life."

In the case just described, the shooter is going to be living with this for the rest of his life in more ways than one. Naturally, this is going to be on his conscious for as long as he lives, but to pay the restitution charges to the victim is going to take several years unless he has a very good paying job.

Now before I go any further, I need to make it clear that this week's column is not out to smear anyone. It is to inform sportsmen and women as to what can happen due to a tiny fraction of a second of carelessness when they are outdoors with a gun.

The shooter had no business being on this property because it was posted and he did not have written permission to trespass on the acreage. He also had no business being out with a firearm whether he knew it or not, because of a past domestic battery conviction. Chances are, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources police confiscated his rifle, and it will most likely be sold at a public auction.

I have stated in past columns that sport hunting is a very safe sport, and it still very much is. Nimrods, however, need to be fully aware of what can happen because of a moment of carelessness. At the same time, they need to be aware of the consequences they could end up paying because of a tiny fraction of a second of carelessness. Remember, when you squeeze that trigger, there is no way to call that bullet or shot charge back. You are the one responsible for where it goes and the destruction it is going to do.

In summary, be sure to have written permission from a landowner if hunting on private land if that land is fenced, enclosed, or posted because of the law. Be extremely sure of your target and what is beyond.



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