Hunting Accident File > Safe Hunting?: > 2005

Man killed by brother in Dryden hunting accident

 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 Road.

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 conditions.

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 consistently."

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 anything."

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.

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