COLUMBUS TOWNSHIP, Warren County — A Corry man was killed Saturday when a hunting companion “slipped or tripped” as the two men crossed a creek, resulting in an unintentional discharge of the companion’s rifle, according to a Pennsylvania Game Commission report on the incident.

Gary Hunt, 64, was shot in the abdomen by his hunting companion’s .270-caliber rifle around noon in State Game Lands 197, according to a preliminary Game Commission report on the incident.

“Based on that preliminary investigation, it appears that this was just a horrible accident,” said Jason Amory, information and education supervisor for the commission.

When the incident occurred, Hunt and his companion, a 42-year-old New Castle man, were hunting black bear in the 1,555-acre game lands located about 6 miles northwest of Corry along the Pennsylvania-New York border, according to the commission report.

The 42-year-old crossed the creek with Hunt following him, according to the report, and the rifle discharged behind him when he slipped.

Following earlier periods of archery and muzzleloader hunting, Saturday was the first day of rifle season for statewide bear hunting, which continues through today. Bear season in the state’s northwest region, including northern Warren County, much of Crawford County and all of Erie County, continues from Nov. 27 through Dec. 4.

Game Commission officers will submit a final report on their investigation into the incident within 10 days, according to Amory. After a final report is submitted, a commission law enforcement supervisor will determine whether charges are filed.

The state recorded no fatal hunting-related shooting incidents in 2020 and 20 incidents overall for the year, Amory said, citing a preliminary report. No data for 2021 was yet available.

Both figures were down from 2019, when four fatal incidents and 26 total shootings were recorded. The overall hunting-related shooting figures for 2020 and 2019 were the two lowest figures on record, Amory said.

Mike Crowley can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at mcrowley@meadvilletribune.com.

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