By JON JOHNSON - Eastern Arizona Courier
KLONDYKE, Ariz. -- A Millersburg man was shot and killed by his
own high-powered rifle while varmint hunting in the Cedar Springs
area on Monday.
Milan M. Hershberger, 24, of 2789 County Road 600, was declared
dead on arrival by an emergency response crew from Pima.
Hershberger had been hunting with his traveling companions
Matthew Miller, 27, and John Mark Yoder, 16, also from Millersburg.
The group first arrived to bow hunt javelina on Dec. 31,
according to Graham County Undersheriff Dave Boyd. After killing
their limit of javelina, a type of feral hog, they proceeded to hunt
varmints such as coyote or fox.
"This was our first time out there," Miller said. "Some friends
had been out two-three years ago and had a good time, so we decided
Hershberger was out on an outcrop of rocks when he noticed a fox
coming his way. He was carrying a 25.06-caliber rifle and a 12-gauge
shotgun. Hershberger could not get a shot off with his rifle so he
laid it down and switched to the shotgun.
As he raised the shotgun, the rifle fell off the side of cliff
and hit butt-first at the bottom of the 12-foot drop. The impact
caused the rifle to go off, and a round hit Hershberger.
The bullet entered under his right arm and exited out the top of
the shoulder, shattering the shoulder and his brachial artery.
Hershberger attempted to return to where his companions were and
shouted, "I'm hit!"
Yoder attempted to apply first aid while Miller climbed up a hill
to get reception on his cell phone and call for help.
By the time response crews from Pima arrived, Hershberger had
bled out and resuscitation efforts were in vain.
"It was just one of those freak accidents," Miller said.
Boyd said everything at the scene was consistent with Miller's
and Yoder's statements.
"There was nothing to indicate that it didn't happen any other
way than described," he said.
Police retrieved the rifle and shotgun and noted one spent round
from the rifle.
Miller's and Yoder's guns had not been fired.
Boyd said Hershberger's mistake was trying to handle two
long-barreled weapons at the same time.
"When the animal you're hunting comes up on you, it's hard to be
able to handle two long guns in that situation," he said.
The age of the gun might have been a factor as well, Boyd said.
"It is a pre-1964 model 70 Winchester, and the trigger appeared
to be very sensitive," he said. "If he had put the safety on when he
put the weapon down, it probably wouldn't have gone off."
An obituary for Hershberger appeared in Thursday's Daily Record.