Turkey hunter shot in face by fellow hunter in Montgomery county

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Ind. -- A hunting trip nearly turned deadly for two men in Montgomery County.

The shooting occurred around 8 a.m. at County Road 550 West and South Davis Bridge Road.

One man had to be hospitalized after being shot in the face by a fellow turkey hunter.

According to the DNR, Jeremy Phillips set up some turkey decoys in a field near his family home.

A second hunter, David Dawson, said he was chasing after a live bird. He saw the decoys and opened fire; Phillips stood up to see who was shooting at his decoys and got shot in the face. Dawson said there was a minute or two between shots.

“It felt like someone hit me in the face and I hit the ground,” said the injured hunter Jeremy Phillips.

Phillips suffered cuts to his face and shoulder.  He thinks the cause of the accident is pretty clear.

“Mostly it was hunter error and being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Phillips.

Investigators with the Indiana DNR say the hunter who shot at the turkey decoy didn’t know Jeremy.

So far it doesn’t appear either hunter broke any laws.

“We don’t believe we have foul play.  We believe we have an accident,” said Lt. William Browne with the DNR.

Browne says accidents involving hunters shooting other hunters are pretty rare.

In 2013 statewide there were 11 shooting accidents covering all hunting seasons.  In 2014 there were only 4 shooting and last year there were 17.

“I’m just hoping everyone understands hunting is a very safe sport,” said Browne.

Still, the accident is a reminder to all hunters to never stalk a turkey, don’t assume you’re the only hunter in the area and always be sure of your target and what’s beyond the target as well.

“People have to pay attention.  Don’t shoot unless you can identify what you’re shooting at,” said Phillips.

“You have to realize this time of year there are decoys out there so it may not be a real turkey you’re looking at.  Take every precaution you can,” said Browne.

Jeremy says he may need a follow up surgery but otherwise he will be okay.

In the meantime, the Montgomery County prosecutor will decide if Dawson will face any charges.

The DNR released a list of safety rules for turkey hunting on Monday.

  • Select a calling position where you can see for at least 50 yards in all directions and where you are protected from the backside.
  • Whistle or shout to alert approaching hunters of your position. Never wave or stand up.
  • Never sneak in on a turkey or use a gobbler call near other hunters. Never crowd another hunter working a bird.
  • Never shoot at sound or movement.
  • Use a flashlight when walking in the dark.
  • Be aware of turkey "fever" and its prevention. Disregard peer pressure to bag a bird.
  • Be extremely careful using turkey decoys.
  • Do not wear red, white, or blue outer wear or exposed inner clothing.
  • Make sure your headnet doesn't obscure your vision.
  • Don't assume you are the only hunter in the area. Be certain of a companion's location.
  • Know and identify your target and what is beyond.
  • Discuss safety techniques with companions.
  • Never assume that other hunters are responsible.
  • Always keep your gun pointed in a safe direction.
  • Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
  • Always keep your gun unloaded until ready to use.
  • Never use alcohol or drugs before or while hunting.
  • Respect property rights and secure permission before hunting.
  • Hunters should unload their guns when crossing fences, climbing into stands, jumping ditches or traversing steep ravines.

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