Crownsville turkey hunter wounded when son accidentally shoots him

Blast from shotgun of boy, 12, hits man in face, shoulders

April 22, 1999|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

A Crownsville man was resting at home yesterday, recuperating from face and shoulder wounds inflicted by his 12-year-old son, who accidentally shot him with a 20-gauge shotgun during a hunting trip on the Eastern Shore.

Eric Scott Gardner, 41, said he will suffer no permanent damage from the Tuesday accident when he trekked with his son, stepfather and uncle to the D & D Hunting Club in Dorchester County just before sunrise.

The group was in dense woods about 6: 30 a.m. waiting for turkeys. Gardner and his son were about 35 yards apart when the boy fired.

"The father was making a movement to the son to get his attention," said Gene Harper, the Maryland Natural Resources Police officer who investigated the accident.

"The son believed it was a turkey," Harper said.

"What it boils down to is, he just didn't know where his father was positioned," he said.

Many of the pellets from the No. 6 shot hit Gardner's eye, Harper said. Gardner was treated at Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury and released.

Doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital's Wilmer Eye Clinic saw him yesterday as an outpatient, a hospital spokeswoman said.

"My son feels really bad," Gardner said in a telephone interview from his home. "I talked to him and told him I didn't hold him to blame and it was an accident."

Susan O'Brien, a spokeswoman for the Department of Natural Resources, said all the men were licensed hunters and that the boy had a junior hunting license that required him to pass a hunter safety course and allows him to hunt only with an adult.

Tuesday's incident was the second turkey-hunting accident in Maryland in as many years, O'Brien said. Both involved shotguns.

In Maryland, the majority of hunting accidents occur during deer season, and most involve tree stands, O'Brien said.

Most turkey-hunting accidents involve inexperienced hunters, said Chuck Lewis, a director with the National Wild Turkey Federation and a DNR hunter safety instructor.

"The thing with turkey hunting is, you are fully camouflaged from head to toe" because turkeys have acute sight and hearing, Lewis said. Many hunters also wear camouflage masks so that only their eyes and hands are clearly visible.

"You're making noises like a turkey," Lewis said. "This in itself might attract a hunter. Most of the hunting accidents that occur are either the shooter hears the sounds, or he might see some slight amount of movement and, because the Adrenalin is pumping, they think turkey and they shoot."

To prevent accidents, the DNR suggests carrying a hat or other piece of material of hunter orange while walking in and out of the woods, especially while carrying a bird.

The DNR suggests that when hunters reach a tree where they want to stop, they tie a ribbon of hunter orange around a limb to warn other hunters.

Pub Date: 4/22/99

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