We are only a few weeks into the fall hunting season and already we've seen two careless acts by hunters - one in Vermont and another in New York. The first took place Oct. 22 when a man mistook another for a deer and fired at him with his Connecticut Valley Arms muzzleloader. The bullet tore through the man's abdomen and, at last report, he was listed in critical condition.
The second took place Oct. 25 and involved a turkey hunter in Vermont who mistook a man sitting in a camouflage chair for a Tom, shooting him in the head and torso. His condition, too, is critical.
Having been shot myself in the throat during a deer drive in 1993 by a man who mistook me for a deer, I speak from experience when I say, please, please identify your target.
There is a certain amount of risk associated with hunting. Uncertain things can and do happen - like a man firing at a deer and hitting a target beyond he never knew was there. But, mistaking a human being for a game animal or bird is unconscionable.
You cannot take back the bullet after you pull the trigger. I know - I live with the repercussions every day of my life, as does the man who made that near deadly decision 16 years ago. So, please think before you act.
Here is the information regarding the two shootings:
In New York:
On Oct. 22 at approximately 7:41 a.m., State Police in Canton were called with a report of a hunting accident off Dayton Road in the town of Potsdam.
Investigation revealed Ricky A. Brunelle, 43, Ellenburg Depot, was hunting on property he leases off South Canton Road in the town of Potsdam.
Brunelle and his hunting partner split up and began hunting at approximately 7 a.m. Brunelle stated he later observed what he thought was a deer and fired one shot from his Connecticut Valley Arms, .50 caliber muzzleloader rifle.
He heard someone shout from the direction he had fired and he found Bernard H. Sharlow, 39, Norwood, had been struck in the abdomen by the shot he had fired. Sharlow was accompanied by another hunter. The hunters carried Sharlow to the road and he was transported to Canton/Potsdam Hospital in Potsdam by EMS.
The New York State Police Troop B Forensic Identification Unit responded to assist with processing the scene. St Lawrence County District Attorney Nicole Duve was advised. Brunelle was charged with second-degree assault and arraigned in the Town of Potsdam Court before Town Justice Sam Charleson. He was released under the supervision of the St. Lawrence County Probation Department. Further investigation into the incident is ongoing.
On Oct. 25, at approximately 8:18 a.m., State Police and State Game Wardens responded to Sand Hill Road in Bradford to a 911 call that a turkey hunter had been shot.
Upon arrival, troopers, game wardens and Upper Valley rescue found the victim, Ryan Terrill, 22, Bradford, suffering from gunshot wounds due to shotgun bird shot. Terrill was transported to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center where he is being treated for his injuries.
The shooter was found to be Richard Sylvester, 49, Topsham.
Initial investigation showed the scene was a cornfield bordered by a wood line located off Sand Hill Road. Terrill was sitting in a camouflage chair just inside the wood line. He was wearing full camouflage clothing. Sylvester was walking from the roadway along the edge of the wood line when he shot at what he thought was a turkey, striking Terrill. They were not hunting together.
Terrill was struck on his left side torso and head region. Sylvester attempted to render aid to Terrill; he then left to a nearby residence to call 911. He then returned to the scene.
State game wardens are reconstructing the scene. There will be a joint investigation with the wardens and State Police detectives. The case will be reviewed with the Orange County state's attorney upon completion.
John Gereau is managing editor of Denton Publications and an avid outdoorsman. To comment on this article or other issues of interest to sportsmen, check out Gereau's Blog at www.denpubs.com.