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John Myers, Forum Communications, Published November 20 2012

Officials: Douglas County man shot at deer but hit friend

SUPERIOR, Wis. - Authorities say it appears that a Superior man who shot and killed his hunting companion Monday was aiming at a deer at the time but missed.

The shooting victim is Garrett M. Carr, 27, of Oliver. His hunting companion was Michael F. Thomson, 31, of Superior, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department. Information gathered as of Tuesday afternoon indicates that there were deer in the area of the two hunters and that Thomson fired at one of the deer but missed, with the bullet striking Carr in the head, according to Dave Zebro, head warden for the Douglas County area.

Emergency crews were called to the shooting just after 5 p.m. Monday in the area of County Road W and Barnes Road in the Town of Superior near the Minnesota-Wisconsin border. Police said Carr died at the scene.

Zebro said at least three conservation officers investigated the shooting Tuesday night and Wednesday, attempting to gather evidence at the scene and re-create the event. He said all evidence so far points to a tragic accident. A final report likely won’t be available for several weeks, he said.

“It was low light, but still legal shooting hours. But as the light dims, the onus is really on the shooter to make sure of his shot,” Zebro said. “Unfortunately, more times than not, when we have a two-party accident like this they know each other very well, friends or family in the same hunting party. That’s why we say pick your hunting partner like your life depends on it.”

While Carr was wearing blaze orange clothing on his body, he was wearing a dark-colored hat, Zebro said. Wisconsin law requires that if hunters wear a hat it be at least 50 percent blaze orange.

“Not to blame the victim, and we don’t know if it would have made any difference, but that’s why we have the blaze orange law,” Zebro noted.

“If there is any good to come out of this it’s that it’s a reminder to all hunters to wait that extra second and be absolutely sure of your target. Be absolutely sure what you are shooting at and what’s behind it, because that bullet is eventually going to stop somewhere,” Zebro said. “No deer is worth someone getting hurt or killed.”

The accident was the second firearms related death so far during Wisconsin’s ongoing 9-day firearms deer season that runs through Sunday.