CONTACT:
      Lt. Robert Bryant: 603-271-3127
      Pete Davison, Hunter Education: 603-271-3214
      Jane Vachon: 603-271-3211    
      November 2, 2009

Two Self-inflicted Hunting-related Shooting Incidents in N.H., One Fatal

CONCORD, N.H. –Two hunting-related shooting incidents occurred in New Hampshire on Saturday, October 31, the opening day of the state’s muzzleloader season for deer.  One was fatal.

In Rindge, N.H., Timothy Letourneau of Rindge, age 21, was killed when his muzzleloader discharged shortly after he had gotten into his treestand.  Letourneau had been hunting with his brother on land off Old Jaffrey Road, where the pair had landowner permission to hunt.  The landowner called 911 just before 4 p.m. on Saturday (October 31) to report that a hunter had been shot.  New Hampshire Fish and Game Conservation Officers, Rindge Police and Rindge Fire and Rescue responded.  Letourneau was transported to Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough, where he was pronounced dead from an accidental gunshot wound, according to N.H. Fish and Game Lt. Craig Morrocco.

Also on Saturday afternoon, a deer hunter was injured in Ossippee. Robert LaPointe of Somersworth, age 66, was pulling his muzzleloader up into his treestand about 1:45 p.m. when the gun got stuck on a branch, which pulled the trigger.  The gun was fully loaded (with cap) and pointed upwards.  It went off and shot LaPointe in the hand at close range, causing serious injury.  LaPointe was transported to Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro, then transferred to Maine Medical Center in Portland, according to N.H. Fish and Game Conservation Officer Mark Hensel.

"When you bring a firearm up into a treestand, the gun must be unloaded – for muzzleloaders, uncapped – with the safety on. Also, control the direction of the muzzle of your firearm; know exactly where it’s pointing at all times," said Hensel. 

Overall, New Hampshire has a strong record for hunter safety, largely attributable to the state's effective hunter education programs. The average number of hunting-related incidents per year has gone down each decade since mandatory hunter education classes became required in the 1960s. The 1960s saw an average of 21.4 incidents per year in New Hampshire. Fewer incidents have occurred each decade since, with an average of 3.1 incidents per year since 2000.  Serious incidents are even rarer – the recent death brings to four the total number of hunting-related fatalities that have occurred in the state in the last 15 years.

Ten Commandments of Hunting Safety:

1. Treat every firearm with the same respect due a loaded firearm.
2. Control the direction of your firearm's muzzle.
3. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
4. Be sure the barrel and action are clear of obstructions.
5. Unload firearms when not in use.
6. Never point a firearm at anything you do not intend to shoot.
7. Never climb a fence or tree, or jump a ditch or log, with a loaded firearm.
8. Never shoot a bullet at a flat, hard surface or water.
9. Store firearms and ammunition separately.
10. Avoid alcoholic beverages or other mood-altering drugs before or while shooting.

"If you’re going to use a treestand, be sure to follow all the manufacturer’s directions, including use of a safety harness to secure yourself to the tree while in the stand," said Lt. Morrocco.  For more information on treestand safety, visit www.tmastands.com.

For more information on hunter safety programs in New Hampshire, visit www.huntnh.com/Hunting/hunter_ed.htm.

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