Hunting partner strikes man carrying decoy

COHOCTON — A local hunter was lucky to escape with minor injuries after a hunting trip gone wrong.

On Wednesday, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) reported an incident in Cohocton that involved a man being shot by a fellow hunter.

On the morning of May 15, Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) Matthew Baker received a call from Steuben County 911 reporting that one adult male had been admitted to Noyes Memorial Hospital in Dansville with a gunshot wound suffered while turkey hunting in the town of Cohocton.

ECO Baker drove to the hospital and interviewed the subject, who was lucky to have suffered only minor injuries from a pellet lodged in his middle finger. The man said he and his hunting partner had set up two turkey decoys in a field that morning and returned to separate parts of the field where they could not see each other. The subject attempted to set up a third decoy without notifying his hunting partner.

Dressed in camouflage and carrying the decoy in front of him, the man began to move through a hedgerow and out into the field. The hunting partner saw what he thought was a real turkey and fired one shot, striking the subject.

New York State Police, ECO Shawn Dussault, K-9 Ski, BECI Investigators Lt. Chris Didion and Inv. Mark Wojtkowiak, and ECO Keith Levanway helped investigate the incident, which involved recreating the scene.

The DEC would like to remind all hunters to follow the four basic rules of hunter safety when afield —

1. Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.

2. Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.

3. Keep your finger off the trigger, and outside the trigger guard, until you are ready to shoot.

4. Always be sure of your target and what is in front of it and behind it. Once you pull the trigger, you cannot take back the bullet.

COs) enforce the 71 Chapters of NY Environmental Conservation Law (ECL), protecting fish and wildlife and preserving environmental quality across New York.

In 2018, the 288 ECOs across the state responded to 21,668 calls and worked on cases that resulted in 20,665 tickets or arrests for crimes ranging from deer poaching to solid waste dumping, illegal mining, the black market pet trade, and excessive emissions violations.

If you witness an environmental crime or believe a violation of environmental law occurred, please call the DEC Division of Law Enforcement hotline at 1-844-DEC-ECOS (1-844-332-3267).

"From Montauk Point to Mount Marcy, from Brooklyn to Buffalo, the ECOs patrolling our state are the first line of defense in protecting New York's environment and our natural resources, ensuring that they exist for future generations of New Yorkers," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "They work long and arduous hours, both deep in our remote wildernesses and in the tight confines of our urban landscapes. Although they don't receive much public fanfare, the work of our ECOs is critical to achieving DEC's mission to protect and enhance our environment."