A hunting accident Nov. 20 in Bryan County and another Nov. 21 in Liberty County put a damper on Thanksgiving weekend for several families, leaving two victims with gunshot injuries and two shooters facing questions about what happened.
According to Cpl. Phillip Scott, conservation ranger with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and investigating DNR officer for both accidents, the first incident occurred at dusk just off Highway 119 near Pembroke.
Scott said the two young men supposedly were deer hunting on a canal road. They heard movement in the brush, and one of the men fired his shotgun, hitting another man in his left hand with 12-gauge “00” (“double-aught”) buckshot, he said.
He said the unnamed victim was lucky to have had only a few of the several pea-sized pellets hit his hand. It also was a good thing he was wearing leather gloves, Scott said.
“He was transported to St. Joseph’s in Savannah,” Scott said. “I don’t think he’ll lose the use of his hand. There was some delay about calling 911 because the victim said he was OK.”
While there is some question about whether the 19- and 20-year-olds had permission to hunt on the private land where the accident occurred, Scott said both hunters had completed Georgia’s hunter-education course and had valid hunting licenses.
The other accident occurred around 8 p.m. Wednesday, just off Cay Creek Road near Midway, Scott said. Liberty County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Cpl. Dennis Abbgy was first to respond to the 911 call, though emergency medical services arrived shortly afterward.
Abbgy’s report said medical personnel immediately began treating Midway resident Steven Amason, 20, for gunshot wounds while Abbgy secured evidence and talked to witnesses until Scott arrived.
“There were six adults — five men and one woman,” Scott said. “Only two of the men had shotguns. They said they were hunting wild hogs. The party separated, and when they heard movement in the woods, one of the men fired.”
Scott said Amason was hit in his left hand and upper chest with “No. 5” shot, which is not the size shot a hunter would want to use to hunt something as big and vicious as a feral hog. However, the victim was fortunate it was not buckshot, he said.
Amason was taken to Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah. Scott said he’d heard Amason’s condition had improved.
Scott said both shotguns were taken as evidence, and the investigation is pending. Although he would not say the shooter was drinking, he did say alcohol was involved in the incident. He also noted that none of the six people had permission to hunt on the private land, they had not completed hunter-safety class, and they did not have hunting licenses.
He did say the incident was an accident and unintentional.
“It’s a pretty serious action when you almost take somebody’s life,” said Scott, noting members of the hunting party did not have flashlights and were using illumination from their cell phones to see in the dark. “I asked them if anybody had a plan about what they were going to do to ensure no one was accidentally shot. They admitted that hadn’t thought about it.”
Scott said both hunting accidents occurred because shooters violated one of the most important rules in hunter safety: Be sure of your target and what’s beyond it.