Man fatally shoots hunting partner after mistaking him for deer, RCMP say

Man fatally shoots hunting partner after mistaking him for deer, RCMP say

A 60-year-old Debert, N.S., man is dead after police say he was shot in a tragic hunting accident Monday about an hour north of Halifax.

Nova Scotia RCMP and paramedics were called to a wooded area in Belmont just before 5 p.m.

According to police, the victim and a 41-year-old Debert man were hunting together and following a deer when they got separated. Police say the younger man shot what he thought was a deer. Instead, he fatally shot his hunting partner. 

"It's pretty devastating, it's a small town, everybody knows everybody. I know the families," said Darryl Currie, deputy chief of the Onslow Belmont Fire Brigade. "It was an accident, it was dusk. A lesson is maybe obvious, I'm not going to preach to anyone."

Police have not released the identities of either the victim or the 41-year-old.

The incident is under investigation. RCMP Cpl. Jennifer Clarke said it's too soon to say whether charges will be laid. 

It is the second hunting-related accident this season. A 71-year-old man suffered leg injuries after being shot earlier this month at a hunting camp in Colchester County.

'Pretty devastating'

Currie said nine of his members were at the scene of the shooting in Belmont, which took place in a small, wooded area at the edge of cornfield.

A stress counsellor will be meeting with members of the fire department, he said.

Travis MacLeod, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters, said his organization will be talking about the incident and what can be done to increase safety in the woods.

He couldn't comment directly on the shooting but said it's important for hunters to be "hyper-aware" of targets and what lies beyond targets "long before you ever raise the weapon."

He said mandatory hunter safety courses and a requirement that hunters wear orange hats and vests have reduced the numbers of shooting accidents in the woods.

General deer hunting season began Oct. 26 and ends on the first weekend in December.