A dog shot a hunter on Wednesday in northern Iowa.
The hunting dog stepped on the trigger guard of a 12-gauge shotgun lying on the ground, and the gun fired, officials with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said.
The bird shot pellets hit pheasant hunter William Rancourt, 36, of Lebanon, N.H., who was standing about 22 yards away, KIMT in Mason City, Iowa, reported.
The incident occurred about 1:20 p.m. Wednesday at the Boone River Greenbelt public hunting area in Wright County.
Rancourt was hunting with three others. The gun belonged to another hunter, but the dog might have been his, according to DNR officials, one of whom said accidents involving hunting dogs are rare.
“Long story short — it was really a freak accident — one of the hunters in the hunting party set his gun down on the ground, and one of the dogs in the hunting party just stepped just right, or just wrong, onto the trigger guard of that shotgun, and the gun fired,” DNR conservation officer Ken Lonneman told Radio Iowa.
Rancourt was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to KIMT.
He was lucky to be standing as far away as he was, “because shotguns are extremely dangerous at close ranges,” Lonneman said.
“At 22 yards he caught most of the shot pattern in his back from his waist up to his neck. He was in X-rays yesterday as they were determining if they would require surgery to remove the pellets, or if they could get most of them with a forceps.
“At three yards it’s going to do a lot more damage than at 22 yards. But he still got peppered pretty good at 22 yards.”
DNR officials used the accident to remind hunters about firearm safety — unload and double-check the safety before putting any gun down or leaving it unattended, Lonneman told the Des Moines Register.
The dog was one of two brought from New Hampshire for the Iowa hunt, reportedly young German shorthairs. Lonneman told Radio Iowa it’s likely they hadn’t been pheasant hunting before.
“They were good bird dogs, and I think as any of us can imagine, accidents can happen,” Lonneman said, “and that one put its foot in the wrong place at the wrong time.”