Hunting Accident File > Safe Hunting?: > 2004


Buffalo News
News Southtowns Bureau

Jill Laufer  says she always has been concerned when she has  heard the boom of hunters'  guns going off around the Warner Hill area of  Wales where she lives.

But the home she lives in is in a wide-open area, and she never thought it would really happen. At least not until Tuesday night, when she was putting her 6-year-old son, Nicholas, to bed.

Nicholas' bed was covered in a fine white powder, and he pointed out there was a hole in the wall next to his closet.

"Then I saw the hole in the wall in the back of the closet, and it took me a couple of minutes to put two and two together," said Laufer.

"Then I  saw the shotgun shell on the floor, the slug.

"It came in through the side of the house on the second floor. It went through the attic, then through his closet and shot right across the room."

The final week of the shotgun season for deer ended with one other  report of a deer slug striking a home in Elma, but that final flurry could  be misleading. According to Erie County Sheriff's Deputy William Cranston, that  brought the county's total of homes struck by deer slugs to three for the  season.

Wednesday, deputies were also investigating an incident on Pond Brook Drive in Elma, where residents returned to their home to discover a  12- gauge shotgun slug had ricocheted through a second-floor window.

"A 12-gauge slug is traveling at least 500 yards," said Cranston, who works in the department's firearms and ordnance office. "The hunter has to  be mindful of the other property owners and homeowners."

On Dec. 2, a resident was present when a slug struck his home on  Matteson Corners Road in Sardinia, but nobody was injured.

All three shootings are under investigation. The Sardinia incident is the only one in which a hunter was identified in the area. "Hopefully with the end of deer season, these will end," said Cranston.

Meaghan Boice-Green, the spokeswoman for the Department of  Environmental Conservation's Region 9, which includes Western New York,  said hunters' shots striking homes were also reported in Arcade and  Lewiston, with no injuries.

While the number of deer hunters has been declining, the total for New York State is expected to top 650,000 this year. There were 684,000 deer management unit permits issued last year. Boice-Green said no breakdown is available for Region 9, but the DEC's deer season preview said 20,545 antlered bucks and 55,480 total deer were killed by hunters in Erie, Niagara, Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Wyoming counties last year.

"We've had fewer hunter-related shooting accidents than ever," Boice-Green said. Laufer would like to see even fewer. "I just want to make hunters aware they have to be more careful of what they're doing," she said. "They shouldn't be on property they haven't gotten permission to go on. They need to just follow the law."

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