On first hunting trip lawmaker bags his bag

December 06, 2003|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

State Rep. Pat Fleagle has a magnificent trophy to hang on his wall following his first ever deer-hunting trip this week - an apple, more specifically an apple that was blown to smithereens.

He also got a first-hand lesson in gun safety, he said.

The apple was in his knapsack, which also got blown away when Fleagle's rifle discharged into it while hunting Monday morning in the Glen Furney area. His heated cushion also fell victim to the 30-06 bullet that smashed through the knapsack.

"It missed the Gatorade. Imagine what a mess that would have made," he said.

Fleagle said he and a friend left home about 4 a.m. Monday, opening day of Pennsylvania's buck season. "We walked with flashlights up an old mountain trail, got to the spot where we were going to hunt, then sat in the dark waiting for daylight," he said.


Around 7:30 a.m. he heard some rustling in the woods and six deer ran by about 75 yards away. "It's not like you see on television where a deer stands in the middle of an open field waiting for you to shoot it. There were millions of trees between me and the deer. By the time I got my gun up and focused, they were gone."

He said his back began to hurt from sitting, so he stood up. "I knew to keep the muzzle pointed away from me, but the safety was off," he said. His big mistake, he said, was putting on a glove. "I lost the sensitivity in my fingers. My finger must have passed over the trigger. When that thing went off it scared the stuffing out of me," he said.

Fleagle said he had taken a hunter safety course. "My instructor would have a hissy fit if he knew I had the safety off. From now on, I'll keep it on until I'm ready to shoot," he said.

Fleagle's near miss hasn't dampened his desire to go hunting. "I'm hooked on it now," he said.

He went out again Wednesday morning to the same spot and he saw another group of four to five deer go by. One was definitely a buck, but he said he couldn't tell if it had three points. Pennsylvania hunting laws require legal bucks to have at least three points.

"I didn't want to shoot an illegal deer," he said.

Somewhere out there is a trophy buck with Fleagle's name on it - providing his knapsack doesn't get in the way.

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