A Waycross man who was struck by self-inflicted accidental gunfire Wednesday while deer hunting on Big Swamp Hunting Club land out Swamp Road is expected to survive the mishap, said Ware County Sheriff Randy Royal.
Justin Smith, 24, of Whispering Pines Trail (off Central Avenue in Brantley County), was taken by Air Evac medical helicopter to UF Health Jacksonville, Fla., for treatment of the gunshot, said Royal.
The sheriff said Smith told deputies he was in the process of getting into his truck, carrying his Thompson Venture .270-caliber bolt-action rifle, when the gun slipped in his grip.
“At that time, Smith said he accidentally hit the trigger and the muzzle was pointed at his upper thigh,” said Royal. “It is believed that the projectile missed any major arteries. The victim is fully anticipated to survive.”
Royal said other members of the hunting club were nearby, heard the shot and responded to where Smith was. One of them called 911.
The helicopter landed at the site of the shooting, about 20 miles from Waycross off Swamp Road near 15-Mile Post Road, a short distance from the Charlton County line.
Ware County deputies were dispatched to the scene where the shooting mishap occurred. Royal said Ware County EMTs were on the scene treating the victim and reported a significant gunshot wound to Smith’s left upper thigh.
“The victim was conscious and breathing at the time,” said Royal Department of Natural Resources Cpl. Mark Poole responded also and is conducting an investigation.
“An investigation has to be done but, of course, we do not suspect foul play,” said Royal.
Deer season for firearms began Saturday (Oct. 21) and will be open through Jan. 14.