Washington Man Accidentally Shot During Duck Hunt

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by RubberBall Productions via Getty Images)

Early Sunday morning (November 20), two friends left their homes in Cowlitz County, Washington, for a day of duck hunting. After meeting at the Elochoman Slough Marina in Cathlamet, a popular fishing and hunting site on the Lower Columbia River, the men loaded up their small boat and launched from the dock, gliding down the river in search of waterfowl.

The day was proving successful, the hunters plucking duck after duck from the chilly water. As the morning wore on, however, what began as a relaxing day among friends became a horrifying experience.

At around 9:45 a.m., the Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Office received a disturbing call. After harvesting yet another duck, one of the hunters propped his shotgun against the side of the boat. He then leaned over the side to collect his prize, jostling the gun enough that it slid from its standing position and began to fall.

Without thinking, the shooter snatched the gun before it could hit the floor of the boat. As his hand closed around the weapon, it fired unexpectedly. To his horror, he quickly realized that he had accidentally shot his friend.

Panicking and wracked with guilt, he immediately called 911. Emergency services instructed the duck hunter to return to the Cathlamet Marina, where an ambulance would be waiting.

The 53-year-old victim was then transported to a nearby hospital. Due to the severity of his injuries, however, he then had to be flown to Vancouver’s SW Medical Center. On Monday, the hunter was still in the hospital but in stable condition. He’s well on the way to a full recovery from his accidental gunshot wound.

Washington DFW Urge Duck Hunters to Practice Gun Safety

As the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has noted, Washington is a fantastic locale for duck hunting, especially this time of year. “As fall turns to winter, increasing numbers of migratory waterfowl return to Washington during their journey south along the Pacific Flyway,” they explained in a recent Facebook post.

“Diverse species of ducks, geese, and other waterfowl make Washington one of the best states in the country for both waterfowl hunting and bird watching.”

“Just as diverse are our state’s many opportunities for enjoying the fall migration, from the rivers, sloughs, intertidal estuaries, and coastal bays of Western Washington to the pothole lakes, desert creeks, and reservoirs of Eastern Washington, and the many agricultural lands in-between.”

Washington DFW welcomes both local and visiting outdoorsmen with open arms. However, they also urge all hunters to take safety measures seriously. Not only is gun safety imperative for the safety of hunters but the longevity of outdoor spaces as well.

“Visitors must obey all posted rules,” they wrote. “Waterfowl hunters, birders, and other outdoor recreationists are reminded to be respectful of each other, to safely and responsibly share public lands and waters, and to appreciate that each cares deeply about birds, wildlife, and their habitat.”

WDFW not only offers classes on hunting safety but requires them to obtain a hunting license in the state. Among the tips offered in the classes include keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and treating every firearm as if it’s loaded.