Hunting Accident File > Safe Hunting?: > 2005

Pennsylvania Man Shot While Turkey Hunting

HERNDON - A Juniata County man turkey hunting near here Thursday morning was seriously injured after being shot by another hunter who mistook him for game.

The victim, described as a 46- or 47-year-old man from Richfield, was taken to Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, where he was listed in serious condition Thursday evening, according to Tim Conway, information education supervisor for the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Northeast Region, based in Dallas.

Conway said he could not release the victim's name as of early Thursday evening because he was unsure if the man's family had yet been notified of his condition.

As for the shooter, Scott R. Schreffler, 34, of Lititz, Conway said he will not be cited until the victim's condition stabilizes.

"After we determine how he's going to do, then the appropriate charge will be filed against him, which will probably be shooting and causing seriously body damage to a human while hunting," Conway said.

According to Conway, the two men, who do not know each other, were hunting separately in the vicinity of each other on private property in Jackson Township near Herndon.

The victim's sister, who was with her brother, told authorities that both she and her brother heard a turkey gobble nearby, so, after a little while, her brother got up and began walking a little further away along a dirt access road, Conway said.

It was around this same time - at about 10:40 a.m. - that Schreffler, who was set up against a tree calling birds, also heard what sounded like a turkey gobble.

Schreffler reportedly said that, from his position, he saw what he believed was the red head of a gobbler and fired his .12-gauge shotgun.

"The shooter thought what he saw was the red head of a male turkey," Conway said. "What he saw was the orange hat of the victim.

"That was a terrible, terrible mistake."

The victim, who was shot from about 30 yards away, took pellets to his head, face, arm and upper leg, Conway said.

Upon realizing he shot another hunter, Conway said Schreffler first provided assistance, then, using his cell phone, called 911. Schreffler then got on his all-terrain vehicle and drove to the nearest road, Route 3006, where he waited for emergency crews to arrive so he could direct them to the victim.

"After the shooting, (Schreffler) did everything right," Conway commented. Conway said that if Schreffler was truthful in saying that he shot only after spotting what he believed was the red head of a gobbler, he made a mistake.

"What a hunter needs to see is the beard of a mature gobbler before shooting," Conway explained.

The beard is a mass of black, coarse, horse-hair-like feathers located on the chest of a male turkey that grows anywhere from 1 to 9 inches in length, depending on the age of the bird. A legal turkey - or one that can be harvested - must have a visible beard, Conway said.

Conway said Wildlife Conservation Officer Kris Krebs is investigating the incident as a hunting accident and not a criminal act, based on the information he has obtained.

As for Schreffler, Conway said he most likely will be fined and lose his hunting privileges for an undetermined number of years if found guilty of

the afore-mentioned charge, unless the victim's condition takes a turn for the worse. In that case, Conway said more serious charges could be filed.

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