Outdoors blog

Lincoln County teen injures buddy while shooting rabbit

HUNTING -- Just in case it wasn't covered in your hunter education course: Never shoot a rabbit in a road culvert or irrigation pipe when your partner's on the other end blocking the rabbit from coming out.

Read on for the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department wildlife police officer's report of a hunting accident last week involving two 13 year-olds. One of them is lucky to be alive.

Officer Curt Wood investigated a hunting incident situation in Lincoln County, where a 13 year old male was accidentally shot in the face by his 13 year old hunting companion.

The two subjects had been hunting rabbits in the Wilbur area, when a rabbit was observed running into some old irrigation pipes that had been piled up. The shooting victim went to the far end of the irrigation pipe in an attempt to keep the rabbit from running out. His companion, who was hunting with a .22 caliber rifle, stayed on the other end of the pipes. The victim attempted to keep the rabbit in the pipe by inserting a blow (dart) gun into his end of the pipe. The victim then decided to visually check the pipe, to see what had happened to the rabbit. When the victim knelt down to look in the pipe, his hunting companion decided to take a shot at the rabbit at about the same time. At the time of the shot, the victim could not be seen by the shooter.

The bullet struck the victim near the top of his nose, entered his sinus cavity, and actually hit and bounced off of his C-1 neck vertebra. It was later determined that the bullet had probably struck the rabbit first, and then fragmented as it travelled down the irrigation pipe. The shooter was able to transport the victim back home on his quad, and the boy was rushed to a hospital in Spokane.

The victim’s parents later told Officer Wood that if the fragmented bullet had taken a slightly different path, or if the entire bullet had struck him, it would have killed him instantly.

The victim will have to undergo surgery next month to remove the bullet fragment. Doctors said the boy should make a complete recovery.

Officer Wood warned the shooter for not possessing a valid small game hunting license.

One more lesson, sportsman to sportsman:  Never shoot firearms around farm equipment or irrigation pipes.  Bullet holes are counterproductive in machinery. Farmers never forget the day they find equipment ruined by hunters. -- RL

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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