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What started as a peaceful day in the woods turned into a chaotic scene of fire trucks, ambulances and deputy cruisers. Around 9 AM on Saturday three adults and two 14-year-old boys were deer hunting off of Ransbottom Road in Ironspot near Roseville.
"What it looks like is one of the juveniles was shot in the abdomen by the other juvenile," said Wildlife Officer Supervisor Bryan Postlethwait. "I know the EMTs were up in there and brought him out, and I know he was life flighted to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus."
Postlethwait said the victim was in stable condition when he arrived at the hospital. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is leading the investigation with assistance from the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office.
"The process is locating the scene, photographing the scene, videotaping the scene, taking measurements, drawing the scene up on paper, compiling all of the interviews and putting that in a report," said Postlethwait.
He said ODNR will work with the Muskingum County Prosecutor’s Office if charges are filed. The accident brings attention to the fact that there’s no minimum hunting age in Ohio.
"There’s not an age requirement, but everybody that hunts has to pass a hunter education course," said Postlethwait.
Owner of T&K Guns & Archery Kathy Robison said hunters must score an 80% or higher on the 100-question exam.
"It goes over all of the safety requirements," said Robison. "They teach them how to carry the gun, how to make sure of your target, and they go over and over it to really get them to understand it."
Kids must be accompanied by a licensed adult until age 16, but that adult does not have to be a parent, and children who aren’t old enough to read are still permitted to take the test.
"If they’re too young to be able to read it, someone can read it to them, but they still have to answer the questions themselves," said Robison.
Postlethwait said hunting accidents have declined over the years, and usually the victims are adults – not children.
"Hunting is actually one of the safest sports you can be involved in, but normally when someone does get hurt, unfortunately it involves a gun, so it’s obviously very serious," said Postlethwait.
Ultimately, Robison said it’s the parents’ responsibility to teach their kids safe hunting habits.
"The parents definitely play a big role in it," said Robison. "They’re the ones who are actually in the field with them, and they’re going to learn a lot from their parents by watching how they do things, so it’s important for the adults to know the safety rules also."