Hunting Accident File > Safe Hunting?: > 2005

Duck hunting mishap leaves 26-year-old fortunate to be alive

Cantonite hurt in hunting accident

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

of the Journal Star

After a promising start, the first day of duck season nearly ended in tragedy for Cory Schoonover.

Hunting at Anderson Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area on Saturday, Schoonover was shot by his hunting partners while retrieving a downed duck.

Fortunately, no pellets hit vital organs, and the 26-year-old Canton resident was released Sunday from OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria. Initial concerns about a pellet lodged near his carotid artery proved unfounded.

"It could have been a lot worse, really. I'm fortunate to have six pellets in my neck and up and not be dead. Or blind. Or anything," Schoonover said.

Hours after being released by St. Francis, Schoonover went deer hunting. Monday he returned to work for RAPPS Engineering. Today he plans to revisit the site of his shooting, Blind 16 at Anderson Lake - traditionally one of the best hunting locations at this Illinois River backwater.

"I figure the quicker I get out there again the quicker I can get past this," Schoonover said. "If you sit there and dwell on it, it's kind of a scary situation."

Schoonover had left the blind early Saturday to retrieve a downed duck that fell in front of the structure. The bird was the third his party shot in 30 minutes. While he was searching for the duck in flooded standing corn, another group of ducks flew past the blind occupied by Schoonover's hunting partners, Robert and Justin Adams of Lewistown and Brian Strode of Canton.

"They waited until they thought the ducks were past him and then six shots were fired," said Dan Sandman, a conservation police officer.

One shot hit Schoonover, who was 40 to 50 yards away from the blind. He was struck by more than 20 pellets that lodged in his nose, cheek, jaw, ear, neck, chest, shoulders and hand.

"I saw the whole thing. When he was hit he rocked back and dropped his gun," Strode said. "It was just a terrible accident."

Schoonover said he may have raised his arm to protect his eyes.

"It all happened so fast I'm not sure," he said. "It didn't feel good, I know that."

After the accident Strode drove a bloodied Schoonover to Graham Hospital in Canton. Schoonover said doctors were at first worried about a pellet that lodged near his carotid artery. As a result, he was flown by helicopter to St. Francis. X-rays showed the pellet was not a cause for concern.

In fact, no pellets were removed.

"They said some will work their way out and some won't," Schoonover said. "The steel shot is the same as what they use in false knee joints."

Schoonover's is the fourth hunting accident reported to the Department of Natural Resources this fall, none of which have been fatal. Squirrel hunters were involved in two accidents and the other involved a hunter whose tree stand collapsed.

Last year the DNR had 33 hunting accidents. Of those, 15 involved the discharge of a firearm and there were no fatalities.

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