11-Year-Old Wisconsin Boy Killed as Deer Season Opens

Was only fatality among 6 accidental shootings on opening weekend of firearm season
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2022 12:18 PM CST
11-Year-Old Wisconsin Boy Killed as Deer Season Opens
Stock image shows a common whitetail dough in a Wisconsin meadow.   (Getty - Michael-Tatman)

An 11-year-old boy was killed in an accidental shooting on the opening weekend of deer season in Wisconsin. Per WPR, a 41-year-old man in the boy’s hunting party was trying to unload his rifle and place it in the back seat of a car when it discharged on Sunday. The bullet hit the boy in the chest. He was airlifted to a hospital where he later died. It was one of six accidental shootings over the weekend among hunters in the state: three were self-inflicted wounds on feet, legs, or hands. The other two were hit in the thigh by members of their own party, including a 69-year-old woman who was sitting in a deer blind when a 16-year-old shot her.

It was a bitterly cold and windy weekend, which wildlife officials say may have contributed to the number of accidents, as hunters were distracted by the conditions or hindered by heavy clothing. One man accidentally shot himself after his hand froze to his rifle and he touched the trigger while trying to free it. But the snow cover provided an assist to hunters, who registered 103,623 deer over the weekend, a 15% increase over the previous year. The 9-day gun season ends Sunday, reports Fox News. Per ABC 2, the 11-year-old victim was identified as Easton Thom, a 6th-grader at Berlin Middle School. Community members have launched dozens of fundraisers to help the family, and a candlelight vigil is planned for Friday night. Attendees are encouraged to wear blaze orange to show support for the family.

In Nebraska, officials reported four non-fatal hunting accidents so far this year, compared to eight last year and five in 2020, per WOWT. Statistically, hunting accidents have seen a steady decline over the past couple decades, and there are typically fewer than a hundred fatalities across the country per year. Wildlife officials implore hunters to heed the four basic firearm safety rules:

  • Treat every gun like it’s loaded.
  • Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
  • Be certain of what is in front of and beyond your target.
  • Keep fingers away from the trigger until you’re ready to fire.
(More hunting stories.)

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