Originally created 01/06/02

Hunting accidents increase

Six people, including a Bartow County man shot by his 14-year-old son, died in hunting accidents across Georgia during November and December, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Ernest Ferguson, 47, of Cartersville, Ga., had been hunting with his son the morning of Nov. 26 and returned to their truck to unload their weapons. The teen-ager's bolt-action Remington .243 rifle discharged, striking Ferguson in the stomach. He died at a nearby hospital.

Other accidents this season included a Nov. 5 incident in Long County, when 35-year-old Frank Henry Parker of Ludowici was killed when 27-year-old Gary Poppel Sr. misidentified noise and movement in the woods for game.

According to a DNR report, Poppel was riding in a vehicle, heard leaves crackling in the woods, asked the driver to stop, exited the vehicle and walked down the road. He saw movement, thought it was a deer and fired his shotgun.

Other fatalities this season include:

  • Kim Lamar Sweat, 45, of Montevallo, Ala., was hunting in Heard County, Ga., on Nov. 25, when he fell 35 feet from a tree stand, landing on his head. He died instantly and was found by his brother.
  • David Sheeham of Elberton was lowering a gun from a tree stand with a rope Dec. 16, when the weapon discharged, fatally striking him in the chin and mouth area.
  • Clarence Lee, 61, of Pensacola, Fla., was hunting in Chattahoochie County on Dec. 7, when he was fatally shot by an unknown person. That case remains under investigation.
  • A 50-year-old Lowndes County man was shot in the groin with a 7 mm. magnum rifle. DNR spokeswoman Melissa Cummings said the case remains under investigation and could not provide further details.
  • The six fatalities represent a slight increase from the five deaths reported during the 2000-2001 season, according to DNR records. However, the total number of reported accidents fell from 55 to 45 this season.

    Deer hunting, which involves about 295,000 of Georgia's 315,000 licensed hunters, accounted for most of the accidents - and all of the reported fatalities this year, according to DNR officials.

    Of the 45 accidents reported this season, 23 involved tree-stand mishaps, 13 involved self-inflicted gunshots, and nine involved incidents in which the victims were shot by other hunters.

    Accidents overall have declined gradually during the past decade, in part because of mandatory hunter education programs designed to make hunters safer and more responsible afield.

    In Georgia, anyone born after Jan. 1, 1961, must have a valid hunter safety certificate to buy a hunting license. Certificates are issued to those who complete and pass hunter-safety courses.


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