By Deborah Weisberg
Pittsburgh – Two hunting seasons collided tragically in
southwestern Pennsylvania recently when a small game hunter,
presumably targeting squirrels, shot another man in the face, as he
waited with his bow in a treestand.
Jason Davies, 19, of Franklin Park, was still in critical
condition and the perpetrator unidentified and at large five days
after the incident in Indiana Township, Allegheny County, on the
opening day of small game season, Oct. 13.
Davies’ family is offering a $10,000 reward for information
leading to the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrator.
The incident occurred around 7:13 a.m. in a wooded area off
Route 910 near Indianola United Presbyterian Church. The victim was
in a stand 30 feet off the ground waiting for deer when a man clad
in hunting clothes and blaze orange fired into the tree, according
to Game Commission southwestern regional law en-forcement director
Neither Smith nor Allegheny County Police Homicide Detective Lt.
Christopher Kearns would characterize the incident as a hunting
accident. “We’re still investigating whether it was a
hunting accident or an intentional shooting,” said Kearns on Oct.
Davies’ cousin and another man who were hunting nearby described
the shooter as a white male in his 40s, about 6 feet 1 inch or 6
feet 2 inches, with grayish hair and a large athletic build, Kearns
said. They told investigators the shooter fled the scene and drove
off in a late 1990s maroon Chevy or Dodge pickup truck with
matching maroon cap.
To not render assistance following such an incident is a
violation of state game laws. “We believe the shooter is
likely from the immediate area,” Kearns said.
According to Smith, who also is involved in the investigation,
it appears the shots were fired during the legal hunting time
period – which is 1/2 hour before sunrise and 1/2 hour after sunset
– and at close range. “Detectives recovered a 12-gauge
shotgun shell casing from the scene Š and it was found fairly close
to the base of the tree,” Smith said.
“The information I got is that (Davies) was hunting
with a standard bow and arrow, that he waved to the man with the
shotgun a couple of times and the guy continued to walk to the
tree,” Smith said.
Davies was taken to a hospital, where he underwent surgery.
The incident was the 13th among hunters anywhere in the state so
far this year. It is two less than this time last year, when
hunting-related accidents had reached an all-time low, according to
Game Commission spokesman Jerry Feaser. “There were 46
incidents in 2006, down from 47 on 2005 and 57 in 2003.”
Last year, 16 incidents involved self-inflicted wounds,
intentional or otherwise, and 30 involved another hunter. One
self-inflicted fatality occurred and one fatality involved another
hunter. Twenty-five of the total incidents involved a shotgun; 16
involved small game and 17, deer.
Feaser said the leading cause of mishaps was that the sporting
arm was in a dangerous position. In 10, the victim was in the line
of fire; in eight, a hunter unintentionally discharged his sporting
arm, and in eight others, the victim mistook a person for game.
Zero involved bowhunters.
“Going to a movie is more dangerous than archery
hunting,” said Ed Wentzler II, a spokesman for the United
Bowhunters of Pennsylvania. “It has a tremendously safe
record. It’s a solitary endeavor. You have to dedicate yourself to
a higher discipline.”
Anyone with information about the Davies shooting is asked to
call Det. Kearns at (412) 473-3000.