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Hunting Accidents: One Hunter’s Story

Editor’s note: Much of this blog entry is taken from information gathered and written by Jennifer West, former associate editor of Turkey & Turkey Hunting.

When you’re in the turkey woods this spring, remember that hunting accidents have a human face. Just ask John Vanover of Clintonwood, Va.

In 1998, Vanover set up against a tree and had been calling for about 20 to 30 minutes when another hunter stalked his calling. The man crawled on his belly toward Vanover and, when he was 67 feet away, fired at what he thought was a turkey. Eighteen pellets hit Vanover. Three were almost fatal, coming within a fraction of an inch of his chest and brain. Vanover needed three operations to remove four pellets from behind his ear and over his eye.

“My life has been a nightmare since this happened,” he wrote in 2000. “I am so nervous and jump at any loud noise. The thing that has been taken away from me that I miss the most is my peace of mind.”

I met Vanover at the 2001 National Wild Turkey Federation Convention, and he told me he’d resumed turkey hunting. The incident, however, would stay with him forever.

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