A 70-year-old man was flown to a Colorado hospital for treatment on Thursday after being accidentally shot by his hunting partner. The men, part of a group of three who were visiting the state from Iowa, were hunting coyotes in Baca County down in the southeastern corner of Colorado when the unfortunate incident occurred.
According to a press release issued by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, one man fired his shotgun at a coyote about 50 feet away and missed. He then swung his gun to take another shot, inadvertently hitting his friend.
“This is a classic example of failure to maintain ‘zone of fire’ awareness,” says Todd Marriott, CPW area wildlife manager. “Hunters must always know where their target is and where the rest of their party is at all times."
The shooter was named as 48-year-old Matthew Mullenix from Urbandale, Iowa. He was cited with careless hunting, a misdemeanor carrying a fine ranging from $100 to $1,000, 20 hunting-license suspension points and a mandatory court appearance.
The victim was taken to a nearby hospital and then transported to a Colorado Springs hospital by air, but is not in a serious condition and was released soon after.
The release states that these kinds of incidents are "extremely rare" in hunting, however in 2021 a hunter was charged with recklessly killing a bowhunter in San Juan National Forest when he mistook him for an elk.
Even if you are not a hunter, it's important to take extra precautions when recreating in the backcountry in places like Colorado during hunting season. Stick to popular trails, dress in bright clothing, secure your dog and avoid dawn and dusk. Learn more in our article on hiking during hunting season.
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Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.