DRYDEN - The Tompkins County Sheriff's Office is
investigating the death of a South Carolina man who was fatally shot
while turkey hunting with his brother Monday near RMS Gravel on Mott
Before 6:50 a.m., Michael Carter, 24, and James Carter, 28, both of
Clover, S.C., had reportedly been hunting in the Mott Road field when
Michael Carter allegedly shot James Carter in the back.
Tompkins County Sheriff's deputies, Dryden firefighters and
Department of Environmental Conservation Officer Jim Milewski
responded to the site of the accident.
Rescue workers attempted First Aid and CPR to revive James Carter.
"We're continuing the investigation into the hunting-related
incident and no conclusion has been drawn relative to charges," said
Capt. Woody Erickson, of DEC Region 7 law enforcement. "Michael, the
shooter, has been interviewed and is free to return to his home in
South Carolina pending the conclusion of the final investigation."
The Tompkins County Sheriff's Office turned the investigation over
to the DEC after the two agencies determined foul play was not
involved in the shooting. Law enforcement officials reportedly
notified the men's family members of the incident.
"There are certain things you do if trying to stalk a turkey,"
Erickson said. Preliminary reports show Michael Carter was not
following these steps, Erickson said.
Before any charges can be filed DEC law enforcement personnel must
examine the shotgun, determine where the shooter was standing and what
he was doing, flight path, topography, weather conditions and light
Erickson said DEC law enforcement should have the investigation
wrapped up in 15 to 30 days.
Dryden firefighters refused to release the location where James
Carter's body was taken to be examined, citing federal privacy laws
regarding the dead man's medical privacy rights.
Spring turkey season begins a half hour before sunrise and
continues through noon until May 31. Only "bearded" turkeys can be
bagged because of nesting hens.
According to the DEC, the five-year average for spring
hunting-related incidents is six, and two for the fall season. No
fatalities were recorded last year.
"Our state says you have to either have a card from a hunter
education course or a hunting license," said Kurt Armstrong, DEC
Region 7 coordinator for sportsman education in Cortland. "It doesn't
have to be a previous New York hunting license. New York state's
program started in 1949 and accident rates have been going down
The DEC estimates there are between 550,000 to 600,000 registered
hunters in New York during the different game seasons.
Town of Dryden supervisor Steven Trumbull, a self-described hunting
enthusiast, said shootings like the one on Mott Road Monday morning
happen when a hunter is careless.
"I just can't imagine this happening, if that's what happened, the
gun should've been on safe," said Trumbull, a Freeville resident. "If
they did get a turkey and they're walking out with a turkey there
shouldn't have been any shells in the gun. As far as people shooting
people for turkeys -- that's just ridiculous."
Trumbull said he finds turkey hunting exciting because of the
skills involved in attracting a bird.
"You have to mimick a hen turkey and there's different calls you
can use, yell and cluck and stuff," he said. "The trick is to get them
that extra few yards and that's the extra difficult part. If it's cold
and rainy, they tend not to gobble as much though you can't guarantee
While Trumbull continues to hunt in both New York and Pennsylvania,
he said hunting incidents affect the sport's community.
"It bothers all of us, all of the hunters who are serious about it
and careful," Trumbull said. "When you know somebody especially, it
gets you ... it gets you anyway."
The DEC says Michael Carter will face an administrative hearing
later over the status of his New York state hunting license.