Edgartown man shot in Chappy hunting accident
In the second Island hunting accident in the first week of the Massachusetts shotgun deer season, Peter Jackson Sr. shot Ronald Drake, a member of the party he was hunting with, in the stomach with a deer slug. The two men were hunting with Robert Fountain.
Mr. Jackson, 65, Mr. Drake, 67, and Mr. Fountain, 64, were hunting Saturday morning in thick brush on a section of private property in a remote section of Chappaquiddick adjacent to The Trustees of Reservations Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge when the accident occurred, Edgartown police said this week.
Mr. Drake, a seasonal Edgartown resident from Pleasant Valley, New York, was transferred from Martha's Vineyard Hospital to a Boston-area medical facility. His injuries were not life threatening, according to reports, but there is no information on his current condition.
Mr. Jackson did not possess a valid firearms identification card permitting him to possess a shotgun at the time of the accident, Edgartown Police officer Chris Dolby said. His previous card expired in 2004. Officer Dolby said the investigation was turned over to Sgt. Matt Bass, the state's Environmental Police officer.
Yesterday, Sergeant Bass applied in Edgartown District Court for a charge of possession of a shotgun without a firearm identification card to be issued against Mr. Jackson.
Conviction is punishable by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than 2 years, or by a fine of not more than $500.
The incident's timeline
Edgartown Police, emergency medical personnel, and Sergeant Bass responded to a report of the shooting at approximately 10:50 am Saturday morning.
The Self property, where the accident occurred, can be reached only by over-sand four-wheel drive vehicles. Mr. Fountain is a long-time caretaker for many Chappy properties.
The men were participating in a small drive. Mr. Jackson saw a deer running in the brush and took a shot. "He said he never saw Drake in the background," according to the police report.
Mr. Fountain told police he heard yelling and thought at first that Mr. Jackson had shot a big deer. When he arrived at the scene of the yelling, he realized that Mr. Drake had been shot, and he called 911.
Mr. Drake was shot in the upper left side of the stomach, police said. The party was met at the Dike Bridge by the ambulance.
The Times has been unable to contact Mr. Drake. Mr. Jackson did not respond to telephone messages left for him.
Reached by The Times, Mr. Fountain said, "Accidents happen, that is all I can tell you."
Asked about the condition of Mr. Drake, he said, "To the best of my knowledge he is doing fine."
Deer hunters in Massachusetts are restricted to shotguns, which have a short range, and hunting accidents are relatively rare, according to state records.
Mr. Drake was participating in a drive, a common and effective method of hunting, which employs drivers who walk through the thick brush to push deer out of their hiding places, and standers or "sitters," who are positioned to shoot at the fleeing deer.
Hunters typically fire deer slugs, one-ounce lead bullets that have limited accuracy beyond 100 yards and drop quickly at greater distances.
Safety in bright
Chilmark police officer Jeff Day, a certified Massachusetts hunter safety instructor who annually teaches the only Vineyard-based hunter safety class, declined to comment on the Drake shooting. But in a telephone conversation Monday, Mr. Day discussed safety practices, particularly when hunters, as part of a group, are pursuing game.
Mr. Day said it is vitally important that hunters who are preparing to drive deer set up the drive carefully. All the members of the party need to know where each hunter will be and what the safe zones of fire are at every point of the drive, he said.
He emphasized that it is the driver's responsibility to push the deer from their hiding places. "It is really important for the drivers not to fire, and I think they forget that," he said. "That is not their job. It is the sitter's job to take the shot."
Mr. Day said the hunting accident that occurred on the first day of the shotgun season last Monday is a case in point.
In that incident, a piece of buckshot fired by an unidentified deer hunter struck Dr. Joseph Asiaf, a 73-year-old pediatrician from Centerville, in the neck (See Times Dec. 3, "Cape man shot in State Forest hunting accident").
Mr. Asiaf was hunting with a large multi-generational group of family and friends in the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest when the accident occurred just before noon.
Mr. Asiaf was part of a group of approximately 18 hunters conducting a drive. The accident occurred when a buck ran across the line of hunters. Multiple shots were fired at the deer.
Mr. Day said that multiple drivers shot at the same deer as it ran across the drive line. "Everyone was presented with a shot, and they took it because they thought the deer was not going to go to the sitters," Mr. Day said. "If people can avoid that, they will be a lot safer."
Mr. Day said hunters should also avoid the use of buckshot. "I try to impart that in the class," he said. "Buckshot really does not have a place in ethical hunting."
He said buckshot is unreliable and results in 10 potentially lethal pellets traveling downrange. He said a hunter who uses buckshot is responsible for each pellet.
One final precaution every hunter should follow, Mr. Day said, is to wear approved hunter orange. State regulations require a deer hunter to wear a total of 500 square inches of hunter orange material "in a conspicuous manner" on his or her chest, back and head.
Mr. Day said some hunters on a drive who become heated from exertion may be tempted to shed clothing. He said it is advisable to layer hunter orange clothing so in the event that a piece of clothing is removed there is always visibility.
State regulations also require that the material meet a specific level of luminescence or brilliance. However, some hunters are hesitant to part with faded, favorite pieces of clothing.
"Replace it often," Mr. Day said. "It has to be visible from a distance. That is the whole point of it."
The shotgun season ends Saturday, one half hour after sunset. The muzzleloader season begins on Monday.