A Cape Cod man was accidentally shot in the neck on the first day of shotgun deer season on Monday in the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest. Dr. Joseph Asiaf, 73, of Centerville, caught a single piece of buckshot in the neck; police believe he was shot by a member of his own hunting party.
His injuries are not life-threatening.
Although the Massachusetts state police continue to investigate, the incident is being called a hunting accident and no criminal charges are expected.
State police Sgt. Neal Maciel said Dr. Asiaf was hunting with a group of between 18 to 22 people just after 11 a.m. in the southwest corner of the state forest near the intersection of West Tisbury and Airport Roads when he was shot in the neck.
The hunter called his son on the radio to report he had been shot, and a member of the hunting party then drove him to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. He was later airlifted to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston where he remains in stable condition. Late Wednesday afternoon he was listed in serious but stable condition.
Sgt. Maciel said when the accident occurred, the group was driving deer, which consists of a group of walking hunters who push deer past a group of waiting hunters. When the buck ran across the line of waiting hunters, as many as eight to 10 hunters opened fire, and one struck Mr. Asiaf.
Buckshot are shells loaded with small pellets, and police said it is difficult to trace which shooter actually hit Dr. Asiaf. The shot also might have ricocheted off a branch or some other object.
“There were a lot of people shooting at the same time, so it could have come from anywhere. Plus the doublewide buck shot was being used by several hunters . . . it’s not like a bullet where you can match it to the rifling,” Sergeant Maciel said.
Sgt. Matthew Bass of the state environmental police said all members of the hunting party were wearing the required orange clothing and followed proper protocol. “They were doing everything right . . . sometimes these things just happen; the buckshot could have been reflected by one of those scrub oaks. It could have from anywhere,” he said.
Sgt. Maciel said police are looking for two men spotted near the scene at the time of the shooting who might have been driving a green Suburban wagon or a small, gray sport utility vehicle. Anyone with information is asked to call him at 508-693-0545.
Hunting accidents are fairly rare, but not unheard of on the Vineyard.
In 2006 a Tisbury resident was accidentally shot in the state forest while hunting alone.
There have already been hunting accidents this year. On Nantucket, a man was accidently shot in the face on the first day of hunting season; in Plymouth a man hunting in a group was accidentally shot, also on the first day of the season.
Sgt. Bass said hunters can decrease the chance of accidents by taking stock of their surroundings.
“Most [hunting] accidents can be prevented by just knowing where your fellow hunters are — as well as pedestrians and cyclists on bike paths. A bit of caution goes along way,” he said.