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When an accident is not an accident

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.

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