Tragic end to Central Alberta hunting season

One man is dead and a woman injured followed two separate big game hunting incidents in Central Alberta Sunday and Monday.

One man is dead and a woman injured following two separate big game hunting incidents in Central Alberta on Sunday and Monday.

Sgt. Duncan Babchuk of Sylvan Lake RCMP said on Monday that a 55-year-old Bentley area man died Sunday afternoon when he was shot by a companion near Bentley.

The incidents occurred on the last two days of the big game hunting season in Central Alberta, which ended on Monday.

Babchuk said police and emergency personnel received a call at 4:17 p.m. from a group of four men from the Bentley and Lacombe area who were hunting deer on a heavily wooded field about 13 km northwest of Bentley.

All four were hunting in different locations on the same property, which was owned by one of the hunters, Babchuk said.

One of the shooters believed he saw a deer about 300 metres down a cut line and took a shot with a .308-calibre rifle.

He waited a minute, saw more movement and fired a second shot.

“At this time he heard a very strange noise and knew something was wrong,” the officer said.

He raced to the site to find his hunting partner suffering from a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

First aid and CPR was done by the shooter from instructions provided by a 911 dispatcher, Babchuk said.

When medical help arrived, they attempted resuscitation and finally pronounced the victim dead.

The shooter, who is 57, is a Lacombe resident.

Babchuk said charges are pending following further investigation by the major crimes unit from Red Deer.

Names of the persons involved are being withheld pending the investigation.

In the Monday incident, an Eckville area homeowner was wounded in the leg by a shot from a hunter.

The 49-year-old woman was sitting in a chair at a rural residence located five km northeast of Eckville at about 11:30 a.m.

She was sitting in an upstairs room when a bullet passed through a wall of her home, hit the chair and then hit her, Babchuk said.

The victim suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre for treatment.

Four hunters who live in the Balzac, Airdrie and Eckville areas were in an adjacent field and had taken two shots at a deer.

One bullet carried through a stand of trees and then struck the residence.

All four hunters attended to the victim’s home to provide assistance.

Police continue their investigation and charges are pending against a 34-year-old man from Airdrie who allegedly fired the shot.

The calibre of the bullet wasn’t released.

No names are being released at this time.

Police continue their investigation, Babchuk said.

Rob McCoy, a longtime Red Deer Fish and Game Association member, was saddened to hear of the death.

“That is just terrible. I always hate to hear of stuff like that because it is so preventable,” said the Red Deer man.

The association offers training and education on firearms for youngsters and adults. McCoy said hunters are taught to always know where their muzzle is pointing and to always confirm their target and not shoot at sounds.

“You just shouldn’t be taking that shot unless you’re sure.

“People have to start paying attention to be sure of your target and beyond. And be responsible for that bullet. Know where that bullet is going.”

Some hunters don’t think about where their bullet might go if they miss, or even if they hit their target. Shots can pass through an animal.

McCoy said modern high-powered scopes can also increase the dangers of hunting if people aren’t careful. A hunter might spot something and when they put their eye to the scope, the magnification can be so drastic that it affects their perception of what they are seeing.

The shooting death will affect many, he said.

“This shooting, it’s devastating for everybody. It’s devastating for the guy who pulled the trigger. It’s devastating for the families of the people that got shot. And it should never have happened.”

Venny Chocholacek has been an association member for more than four decades and has taught many people about gun safety.

He stresses that hunters must be sure of their target. But in the heat of the hunt, sometimes that basic rule can be overlooked.

“It’s one of those unfortunate, how do you say, human errors, that happen unfortunately.”

Chocholacek said hunters should always know what else is in the area, whether it’s humans or houses.

“It’s a prime thing. You have to know what is beyond your target before you squeeze that trigger.”

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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