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W.Va. turkey hunt turns fatal

May 17, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Hedgesville man was fatally shot by an acquaintance Monday morning while the two were turkey hunting in a wooded area in Tomahawk, according to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.

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Michael Z. Butts, 39, was pronounced dead at the scene from a single gunshot wound to the chest, DNR Conservation Officer Mike Sibole said.

Butts and a friend were hunting turkeys in an area south of the Greenwood Acres subdivision near W.Va. 7 when Butts was shot about 9 a.m., Sibole said.

"It appears he was shot by his hunting buddy," Sibole said.

Butts' friend ran to a nearby home for help, but Butts was dead when police arrived, Sibole said.

West Virginia State Police Sgt. Rob Blair said troopers were called to the scene about 9:30 a.m. Monday for a reported gunshot but turned the matter over to DNR investigators after it became apparent it was a hunting accident.


Sibole would not comment on specifics of the shooting but said he believes Butts was shot with a .222-caliber bolt-action hunting rifle.

"I'm not going to call it an accident at this point, but we don't have any reason to think otherwise," Sibole said.

DNR did not release the name of the other hunter.

An autopsy was scheduled for today at the state medical examiner's office in Morgantown, W.Va., Sibole said.

Sibole said he will talk with Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely about further investigation into the case.

The death was the first fatality this year during West Virginia turkey season, which opened April 26, Sibole said.

West Virginia's turkey hunting season ends on Saturday.

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