New Hampshire Boy Injured While Turkey Hunting

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A 15-year-old boy hunting for turkeys with his older brother, age 25, was wounded by birdshot from a third hunter on May 3, 2007. The incident took place off Meredith Center Road in Laconia. The names of those involved are not being released pending further investigation. The teenager is currently in stable condition, with non-life-threatening injuries) at Lakes Region General Hospital.

New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Law Enforcement was notified of the incident at approximately 8:30 a.m. The two brothers had been hunting for turkeys this morning, the opening day of New Hampshire's spring gobbler season. They were in a stationary position, wearing camouflage, and were calling to bring turkeys in to their location, as is customary in turkey hunting. The third hunter, a 45-year-old man from Belmont who is a veteran hunter, was moving through the woods looking for turkeys (a practice, discouraged by hunter safety experts, known as "stalking"). Unaware of the presence of the younger men, he fired in the direction of their decoy and hit the 15-year-old hunter in the face, neck and chest area with birdshot pellets.

"The Laconia Police Department responded very quickly to the scene and helped preserve crucial evidence," said Lt. James Goss of N.H. Fish and Game Law Enforcement. The boy was transported to the hospital by the Laconia Fire Department ambulance.

The incident remains under investigation by New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Law Enforcement.

"One of the points we stress intensively in hunter education is that you NEVER stalk a turkey, and this incident points out just why that is such an important rule," said Laura Ryder, who oversees Hunter Education programs at Fish and Game. "If you're hunting turkeys, you should be sitting in one place and calling the turkeys to you."

Since modern-day turkey hunting began in New Hampshire in 1977, the state has had just four (now five) turkey hunting incidents; none have been fatal, according to Ryder. More than 95% of all hunting incidents in New Hampshire occur between hunters.

Overall, New Hampshire has an excellent record for hunter safety, largely attributable to the state's effective hunter education programs. The average number of hunting-related incidents per year has gone down each decade since mandatory hunter education classes became required in the 1960s. The 1960s saw an average of 21.4 incidents per year in New Hampshire. Fewer incidents have occurred each decade since, with an average of 3.3 incidents per year since 2000. Serious incidents are even more rare -- only two hunting-related fatalities have occurred in the state in the last 14 years.

Fish and Game recommends the following basic safety tips for turkey hunters:

  • * Never stalk a turkey. It rarely works and increases the risk of an accident.
  • * Never wear red, white, blue or black clothing, because these are the prominent colors of displaying gobblers.
  • * Never call from a tree that is thinner than the width of your shoulders.
  • * Never jump or turn suddenly in response to a suspected turkey.
  • * Never call from a site where you can't see at least 40 yards in all directions.
  • * Never imitate a gobbler call while concealed in a stand.
  • * Never presume that what you hear or what responds to your call is a turkey.
  • * To identify yourself to other hunters, wrap an orange band around a tree.
  • * Never hide so well that you can't see what's happening around you.
  • * Never move or wave to alert approaching hunters; shout "stop" instead.