Elko County Hunting Tragedy a Sad Reminder on the Importance of Firearm Safety

Elko County, NV– The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) sends its deepest condolences to the family of a 48-year-old Winnemucca man who died last week after he was accidentally shot by his friend on a hunting trip.

Elko County Sheriff’s Deputies were contacted the morning of Tuesday, November 1 with a report of a hunter who had sustained a gunshot wound to the chest in the North Pequop Mountains. NDOW game wardens, deputies, along with Reach Air Medical Services, arrived on scene but declared the victim deceased on arrival.

A preliminary investigation by Elko County Sheriff’s Deputies and NDOW game wardens determined that a friend of the victim was attempting to place his weapon into a plastic gun case attached to a side-by-side OHV when the rifle accidentally fired, hitting the victim in the chest.

Game wardens report that when tragedies such as this occur, it is often while entering or exiting a vehicle with a loaded weapon. Nevada law prohibits carrying loaded rifles and shotguns in or on vehicles, including ATVs and snowmobiles, yet carrying a loaded weapon in a vehicle continues to be one of the three most-cited offenses each year.

This is only the second hunting related fatality in Nevada since 1997. The other incident occurred in 2015 when a hunter was loading his rifle into a truck when it also accidentally discharged and shot a 48-year-old from Carson City in the chest.

“Our thoughts go out to all involved and impacted by this tragic situation,” said NDOW Statewide Outdoor Education Coordinator Aaron Keller. “As much as we stress the importance of firearm safety, this is a stark reminder that accidents can happen. We encourage everyone to use extreme caution when dealing with firearms.”

NDOW asks hunters to always follow The Big Four rules emphasized in NDOW’s Hunter Education courses:

  • Always keep your gun pointed in a safe direction
  • Every gun is loaded until you check it yourself
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot
  • Be sure of your target and what’s in line with it

Hunter Education courses were instituted in 1972. Anyone born after January 1,1960 is required to complete a rigorous hunter education course to purchase a hunting license in Nevada.  This requirement has steadily reduced and almost eliminated the number of hunting incidents in the state of Nevada. 

“These mandatory classes are extremely important in training, safe, responsible, and ethical hunters,” Keller said. “It is critical that hunters use the knowledge they learn in these classes every time they go into the field to prevent firearm related accidents.”   

Find Hunter Education courses at https://www.ndow.org/get-outside/hunting/hunter-education/.  

Learn about Nevada’s hunting rules and regulations at https://www.ndow.org/rules-regulations.

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