NY: Target: Hunting accidents
December 11, 2009
At sundown Sunday, big game hunting season comes to an end, wrapping up
another successful - and for the most part, safe - year.
"There have been less fatalities and injuries. ... We have seen the trend
has been down in the last seven years," said Lt. David Baker with the state
Department of Environmental Conservation.
He attributes that decrease to a number of factors, such as improved
equipment, more attention to hunter-safety education and fewer hunters in
Jim Catalfamo, president of Canandaigua Sportsmen's Club, a hunter for
more than 40 years, said he's never been involved in a hunting accident. "It
all boils down to basic safety and common sense," said Catalfamo, who has
taught hunter safety courses. He has seen the trend in hunting accidents
diminish in recent years, he said, with more emphasis on hunter safety.
But accidents still happen.
Tragic cases, close calls Baker has seen his share of hunting accidents
during his 27 years with the DEC and eight years with the Ontario County
Sheriff's Office before that. Just last month, after the start of hunting
season, 18 year-old Joseph Jarnot of Williamson, Wayne County, was shot by
his brother while hunting in Cohocton, south of Naples.
Jarnot was still in guarded condition Friday morning at Strong Memorial
Hospital in Rochester.
In Ontario County, there have been two hunting accidents this season,
neither resulting in injury - though one last Saturday in East Bloomfield
was a pretty close call. Both damaged homes.
On Nov. 28, said Baker, a hunter allegedly shot across Martz Road in
Farmington and the slug ricocheted off a tree, hitting a house.
In East Bloomfield, last Saturday, a freak accident occurred when a group
hunted in a field on the southwest side of County Road 39, near Eddy Road.
When one of the hunters fired two shots, one shot traveled some 450 yards -
farther than four football fields - crashing through an upstairs bedroom
window on County Road 39.
"Only one other time have I seen a bullet go that far," said Baker, who
responded to the scene. "It hit the head board and lodged into an interior
A resident had been in that bed 10 minutes before the bullet hit about
8:40 a.m., he said. The family didn't realize what had happened, as they
were all downstairs when it hit, he said, and thought the noise was
something going on outside. Then someone went upstairs about 10:15 a.m., saw
what had happened and called 911.
That bullet dropped some 60 feet in elevation, as well as traveling 450
yards, said Baker. "It does make you appreciate how powerful those things
are," he said.
Though the DEC believes the East Bloomfield case was an accident, it will
hold a routine administrative hearing to determine whether or not it
resulted from negligence, said Baker. The case is also being reviewed by the
Ontario County District Attorney's Office.
If a hunter is found to be negligent, the hunter's license could be
revoked for up to five years.
Pets in the line of fire While the East Bloomfield accident and other
hunting incidents involve the DEC and other law enforcement, some
hunting-relating mishaps never get reported. But they happen, and some
That is what happened to Beverly and David Rugenstein. The Gorham couple
live in a quiet country setting on Yautzy Road, hospitable to humans and
felines. Or so they thought, until their cat Mikey, a 1-year-old with silky
black fur, dragged himself home one day this fall.
At first, Beverly said, she thought Mikey had broken his leg. But when
the couple noticed he was having trouble using both back legs and a front
leg, they knew it must be more serious.
Veterinary tests revealed Mikey had been hit with birdshot. "It hit both
his (back) legs," said David. And a front leg was fractured, probably from
running away, David surmised.
The Rugensteins were worried what would happen to Mikey - if he could
recover and live a happy life.
Mikey ended up having his left back leg amputated. He is OK, now, said
David, and can even jump. "He has adjusted to it."
But Mikey isn't allowed outside "without an escort," he added.
David said he doesn't want to blame anyone, but he wishes hunters would
be more careful - for their own safety and the safety of others.
Beverly agreed. "If you are going to shoot, look at what you are shooting
at," she said.
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