Teens Involved In “Mistaken For Game” Shootings In Dodge And Coffee Counties

GON Staff | February 26, 2008

Two Georgia teenage hunters were involved in hunting-related shooting fatalities this past season that were classified by DNR Law Enforcement as “mistaken for game.”

On Nov. 3, in Coffee County a 14-year-old from Broxton was shot and killed by his 18-year-old brother, who apparently mistook him for a deer.

According to DNR Law Enforcement Sgt. Keith Byers, the 14-year-old, hunting from a tree stand, had shot a deer and called his older brother on his cell phone to come help him retrieve it.

When the 18-year-old, Joey J. Burkett, approached his younger brother’s stand, he was apparently continuing to hunt, said Byers. According to the officer, the youth saw something move and shot at it with his scoped .30/30.

Investigating officers believe what the youth saw was his brother getting ready to get out of his deer stand. There was a bullet hole through part of the stand. The exact distance of the shot is unclear but was estimated to be between 50 to 130 yards. Officers were unable to find the exact location of the shot because a shell was not ejected from the gun.

The .30/30 slug passed through the backrest of the stand and struck the youth in the lower back. According to DNR Law Enforcement, the younger boy was not wearing a fluorescent-orange vest.

In Dodge County, on the afternoon of Dec. 28, a 12-year-old hunting hogs shot and killed his father who he apparently mistook for a hog.

According to DNR Law Enforce-ment Cpl. Johnny Ashe the father and son were hunting hogs in a swamp along the Ocmulgee River near Hwy 230 with the father’s brother-in-law and his son.

“What we understand is that they were all sitting in stands and waiting on hogs,” said Cpl. Ashe. “The 12-year-old had seen several hogs and tried to get a shot but couldn’t. Just before dark, the boy’s uncle, who was in a stand about 120 yard away, shot a hog. The shot forced some other hogs to run past the boy’s stand. He was seeing hogs but couldn’t get a shot.

“The father went to help the uncle drag the hog out to the road. He then returned to get his son. He started walking back up a slough toward the stand, and it was getting pretty late. Everyone had their vests on, but at that time of day and in those weather conditions, the 12-year-old could not distinguish the color or shape when his father walked up. Apparently all he saw was a shadow coming up through the brush.

“The father saw his son in the stand,” said Cpl. Ashe. “From what we gathered, he saw him move like he was coming down. He didn’t say anything, and he didn’t have a flashlight that we know of. The boy got up, turned and fired at what he thought was a hog.”

According to the officer, the bullet from the boy’s .223 hit his father in the lower left abdomen, passing through his orange vest. The bullet fragmented and did not exit. The distance of the shot was approximately 23 yards.

According to Cpl. Ashe, after the shot, the son jumped down and ran to his dad. His dad grabbed his cell phone and called the uncle. The uncle came to assist, and they contacted 911.

When the EMS team arrived, they were led into the swamp, and then transported the injured hunter to the ambulance waiting on the road. The father was transported to the Dodge County Hospital in Eastman for initial evaluation. The decision was made to transfer him to the Macon Medical Center, but he died en route.

The father was identified as John Darrin Peacock, 39, of Eastman.

“It was an incident we categorize as mistaken for game,” said Cpl. Ashe. “We hope to take what we learn from this incident and apply it to future hunter-education classes so it won’t happen again.”

No charges were filed in either case.

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