Bowhunter shot as he walked through woods

Brinkhaven, Ohio — When Bill McCabe walked into the woods with his bow in late October, he had no idea how the day would turn out for him.

A night of bowhunting with out-of-town family members nearly turned tragic for the 59-year-old retiree.

As McCabe and the group – family from Wisconsin and Iowa – were walking into a private property woodlot, another bowhunter shot McCabe. The incident occurred right on the border of Knox and Holmes counties.

“I was holding my bow above my head coming through the weeds and (the shooter) was looking through his scope,” McCabe said in an interview with Ohio Outdoor News. “I guess he was just an inexperienced hunter.”

The bolt from the shooter’s crossbow hit McCabe just below the knee.

“It went right through the bones in the right leg and stuck into the left leg,” he said. “It was like getting hit with a sledgehammer. It almost knocked me right off my feet. And I thought ‘Oh, my God, you shot me.’”

McCabe was able to gather his wits enough to communicate to the others in his hunting party.

“I told them that I’m allergic to codeine and shellfish, do not remove the arrow, do not put a tourniquet on it, and I’m going to pass out in a few minutes,” McCabe remembered. “About 30 seconds later, I passed out.”

Emergency medical personnel summoned a medical helicopter to lift McCabe out of the woods and fly him to Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.

“The sheriff, the (wildlife officer), and the state inspector were there almost before the EMS was,” McCabe said.

McCabe is thankful to be alive.

“I’ve got a long recovery ahead of me,” he said. “It will be a year for my leg, if the bone comes back right.”

McCabe said the point of telling his story is to educate his fellow bowhunters and others about safety. If you’re not sure what you’re looking at, don’t take the shot.

“As a bowhunter, I’ve never gone into or out of the woods with a light,” he said. “You try to sneak in and sneak out … You don’t know that (other hunters) are there and they don’t know you are there, especially on public property … I don’t think I would ever go in without a light again.”

The incident will certainly change the way McCabe hunts, he said.

“When you’re gun hunting, you’re using a light and you’re wearing hunter orange,” he said. “In this instance, I was all camoed up with a face mask and a backpack that made me look bigger, holding something above my head.”

The shooter was the one who actually made the 911 call, McCabe said.

“He’s called me everyday since then (to check on his progress),” McCabe said. “He feels terrible.

“It was a bad situation,” he said. “I actually feel more sorry for the guy who shot me than I do for myself.”

Law enforcement authorities, including the county wildlife officer, were on the scene quickly.

“The sheriff wouldn’t even let the helicopter take off until he heard from me about whether it was intentional or accidental,” McCabe said. “In the report to the state, I characterized it as an unfortunate incident. It wasn’t an accident because he pulled the trigger.

“It was an incident, not an accident, there’s a difference,” he said.

Authorities questioned the shooter for several hours on the night of the incident, McCabe said. Authorities have been thorough in their investigation, he said.

“They kept (the shooter) in the woods until 11 o’clock that night,” McCabe said. (The incident) happened about 6:30 at night.”

Law enforcement authorities cordoned off the area that night and then returned the next day to do more investigation, according to McCabe.

“They came to the hospital at OSU to get the arrow and my clothes,” McCabe said of the authorities. “They were in the emergency room at the hospital to get my statement that night. It was an interesting process.”

Although bad enough, the situation could have been worse, McCabe said.

“I was lucky that it was a fixed tip (bolt) and not a mechanical,” he said. “A mechanical (broadhead) would have really blasted a hole.”

McCabe has one final thought.

“If you don’t know what you’re shooting at, don’t take a chance,” he said.

Ken Fitz, law enforcement administrator for the DNR Division of Wildlife, said typically in such cases potential charges will be presented to the local prosecutor.

“Our normal procedure is that once we get all the evidence together and get all the statements we’re going to go to the prosecutor (for potential charges),” Fitz said. “… It’s always presented.”

Leighland Arehart, law enforcement supervisor for the Division of Wildlife in Central Ohio’s District 1, said on Nov. 20 that his investigators are still compiling information and evidence on the case.

“The investigation is still pending on our end,” Arehart said. “… We’re going to be pretty tight-lipped until we get all the way done with our process.”

Categories: Hunting News

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