A 13-year-old Jonesboro youth died of a gunshot wound Nov. 13 while hunting in northern Sharp County with a friend.
William G. Bishop was hunting with Daniel Swearingen, 27, also of Jonesboro, in a two-person deer stand when Bishop shot and wounded a deer. Swearingen told police he shot the deer again with Bishop's pump shotgun, reloaded the gun and lowered the gun and his muzzleloader to the ground with a rope, Sheriff Dale Weaver said.
The two got out of the stand and approached the deer. The animal got up and Swearingen shot the deer two or three more times, Weaver said. Swearingen returned to the stand, got his muzzleloader and gave Bishop his hunting pouch, Weaver said.
Swearingen approached the deer again, laid the guns down and cut its throat. Swearingen told police he then heard a gunshot behind him and saw Bishop had accidentally shot himself in the head with the muzzleloader, Weaver said.
The sheriff's office, Arkansas State Police and Arkansas Game and Fish Commission investigated the accident.
The safety was not engaged, Weaver said. The medical examiner has ruled Bishop's death as accidental, he said.
The weekend hunting trip was Bishop's first hunting experience, Weaver said. Bishop and his father, Henry, had gone into the woods the day before to review some basic hunting safety methods, Weaver said.
Bishop's death marks the first hunting fatality in Sharp County in several years.
"I hope it is our last," Weaver said. "It's just terrible that something like this happened."
Hunters are urged to practice safety while hunting.
"Everyone gets excited when they go out to hunt but we need to remember there are not enough deer in the state to trade for one human's life," Weaver said. "Even those of us who have handled guns all our lives can get careless."