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hunter shoots another hunter

Monday, May 07, 2018 15:20 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

A man fired at what he thought was a turkey but it was another hunter he struck in Starke County.

Earl Sponaugle, 52, of Knox was hit by 13 shotgun pellets about 6:30 a.m. Sunday, according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

He was taken to nearby Starke Hospital and released a few hours later, DNR officials said.

The name of the shooter was being withheld Monday pending a decision by prosecutors in Starke County on whether to pursue charges, according to DNR.

Tyler Brock, a DNR conservation officer, said Sponaugle was hunting primarily mushrooms on his property in the area of 100 North and 500 East.

He also brought with him a shotgun to try and bag a turkey if he happened to

spot one, Brock said.

The other hunter on a neighboring parcel told investigators he spotted what

he believed was the white head of tom turkey and fired his 12 gauge shotgun at it.

Sponaugle was about 70 yards from the shooter when the buckshot penetrated his skin, Brock said.

Brock said the victim was fortunate his injuries were not more serious because at that distance a 12 gauge shotgun blast still packs significant force.

''Most turkey loads nowadays are effective within 60 yards or so. At 70 yards, there's still a lot of velocity there,'' Brock said.

Shawn Brown, another DNR officer, said criminal recklessness is one of the charges that could apply in this case because the shooter did not have permission from the victim to fire onto his property.

He said the shooter also didn't make 100-percent sure what he saw was a turkey before pulling the trigger.

''You can't take a chance. That's exactly what happened,'' Brown said.

Brock said hunters should never shoot until visually confirming their targets and knowing what's beyond it.

Hunters should also not fire toward a noise to avoid hitting a hunter taking cover in some brush trying to lure an animal by imitating the sound of the species, he said.

Brock said hunters should also verify it's not a decoy they see because of hunters possibly being close to decoys they're using to try and bring an animal to within shooting range.

''You always I.D your game. We preach that in hunter education courses,'' Brown said.
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