Yesterday, David Michael Barber appeared in an Antrim County courtroom for a hearing, one year after an opening day that changed his life, and took the life of another hunter.
Barber was charged with involuntary manslaughter on accusations that he, while hunting, shot another hunter, Justin Beutel, 38, across the street while Beutel was field dressing a deer.
Beutel was one of three hunters killed last year.
Matthew Boeck was shot in the head with a 30/30 rifle by another hunter, who’d fired at a deer. He had no idea he’d killed someone until law enforcement told him, according to Bridge Magazine.
Chong Moua Yang, 68, was found at the base of his tree stand, shot, with his 12-gauge and backpack missing. The Lansing sportsman’s family still don’t know what happened to him, according to Bridge.
Last year was a definite anomaly.
Michigan’s hunting deaths on the whole have fallen through the years, as hunting numbers decline and safety requirements increase — like mandatory wearing of blaze orange.
But this season already there have been three more gun-related injuries ascribed to hunting.
One Grayling hunter’s rifle discharged as he loaded it into his case, and his kids were hit by debris. They sustained minor injuries.
Another hunter accidentally shot his own brother in the back, according to the Ionia County Sheriff’s Department. News reports said that the shooter thought he was firing at a deer. Reports had the brothers walking out of the field together to meet the ambulance.
Already this year is better than last’s in terms of opening day fatalities.
But it’s still cause for concern, as there are 11 more days of the season, and the pressure grows to fill the freezer.
Be safe out there.
In two of three of last year’s fatalities, the hunters were wearing blaze orange, but the shooter didn’t see it.
Hunting can play a role in a healthy whitetail herd and feeds more than a few families in our Great Lake state.
Please take extra care and have a safe season.