Boy killed in accident apparently did not have hunting license

Balto. County child, 10, shot himself in chest with crossbow

October 31, 2003|By Johnathon E. Briggs | Johnathon E. Briggs,SUN STAFF

The 10-year-old Baltimore County boy killed in a crossbow hunting accident Saturday on the Eastern Shore did not have a hunting license and had never before handled a crossbow.

A source knowledgeable about the investigation said Maryland Natural Resources Police believe that Tyler Stephen Mattison, a Perry Hall fifth-grader, shot himself accidentally in the chest while hunting on private property in Queen Anne.

Since 1977, all first-time hunters have been required to complete a firearms and safety course before being allowed to buy a hunting license.

The boy's father, Christopher Stephen Mattison, 39, had a hunting license, according to state records.

No charges have been filed in the accident. The boy's death, which occurred in the first year of Maryland's crossbow hunting season, is being investigated by the state Department of Natural Resources and may be reviewed by the Talbot County state's attorney's office.

Department of Natural Resources officials scheduled a news briefing about the investigation for this morning in Queen Anne. Officials said yesterday that no conclusions about the accident will be announced and that it could take a week to complete the investigation.

Tyler, a pupil at Seven Oaks Elementary School, was killed Saturday evening while hunting deer with his father on private property. Tyler was carrying the crossbow; his father was carrying a muzzleloader rifle, said Heather Lynch, a DNR spokeswoman.

The Mattisons had permission to hunt on the property, Lynch said.

Mattison family spokesman Mike K. Day Sr., president of the Baltimore County Fire Fighters Association, could not comment on the investigation last night but said that as the family laid young Tyler to rest yesterday, they also celebrated his life.

"He was a great kid," Day said. "He had this winning smile that touched so many people in the 10 years that he was here."

The crossbow season, which includes much of October and part of January, is new to Maryland. Before this year, only hunters with physical handicaps were allowed to use the crossbow, which has a trigger similar to a gun and shoots an arrow.

The proposal to expand crossbow hunting got favorable responses from some hunters responding to a DNR Internet survey. A few said it would allow them to hunt with their children, who might have trouble pulling back a traditional longbow.

A 10-hour bowhunter course is offered in Maryland but is not mandatory, state gaming officials said. Basics about crossbow hunting are covered in the required DNR basic hunting education course.

Maryland requires all hunters younger than 16 to be accompanied by an adult but does not have restrictions on the age of hunters.

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