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Teenage hunter shoots man by mistake

A 65-year-old man escaped serious injuries when he was shot in the back and face with separate shotgun blasts fired about 65 yards away by a teenager who mistook the victim for a turkey Saturday in brush of outside Central Point, authorities said.

Oregon State Police investigators and victim Jerry Barrett of Central Point both said about 130 pellets penetrated Barrett, and Barrett said all but one remained lodged Monday about a quarter inch or more beneath his skin.

Thick jeans and the distance traveled by the pellets likely kept the brunt of the first shot from entering his rear end, Barrett said.

Only turning and putting his hands in front of his face kept the pellets from the second shot from hitting his eyes, though two pellets lodged in his forehead, he said.

"I felt it all the way from the top of my boots to the top of my head," Barrett said in a Monday interview. "I got lucky. This is not an event I would want to repeat. It could have been a lot worse, a lot worse."

The shooting stopped when the Barrett stepped out of the brush onto a road and in plain view of the 14-year-old shooter's hunting party, whose members quickly called police, the OSP said.

"He was bloody from his forehead to his lower legs, but no injuries were life-threatening," OSP Sgt. Kirk Meyer said.

Members of the group used a cellular phone to call for an ambulance, which took Barrett to Rogue Valley Medical Center, police said.

Barrett was X-rayed, given a tetanus shot and medication and sent home because doctors said removing the pellets could cause more damage than the pellets themselves, Barrett said.

"I was not a pretty sight," Barrett said. "You look at me now, it doesn't look so bad."

The OSP identified the shooter only as a 14-year-old Medford boy who was hunting with another juvenile and their fathers.

No citations were issued and the case was forwarded to the Jackson County District Attorney's Office for review, Meyer said. OSP investigators forwarded the case without any recommendation, he said.

The shooter told investigators that he was walking up a forest road when he heard turkeys gobbling and then saw a dark shape in the brush that he mistook for a turkey, the OSP said.

Barrett, who was scouting turkeys for an upcoming hunt on the same property, said he heard the same gobbles but did not know other hunters were on the property.

The teen fired his Remington 870 shotgun in what was described as two quick shots, Meyer said.

Barrett was wearing a black long-sleeved shirt, tan hat and blue jeans. He was not wearing blaze orange, which is not required of hunters in Oregon.

Oregon Hunter Education Program courses stress that hunters should not fire any weapon until they are able to identify their target and what is beyond the target.

The spring turkey season opened April 15 and runs through May 31.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.