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Farmer finds injured hunter in field while combining corn south of Worthington

Oct. 19 incident involved 23-year-old Worthington man who accidentally shot himself in the shoulder.

WORTHINGTON — As a 23-year-old Worthington man continues to recuperate from an accidental gunshot to his shoulder while hunting south of town near Peterson Slough on Oct. 19, the farmer who found the man spoke to The Globe on Monday about the discovery.

Wishing to remain anonymous, the farmer said he was combining corn just west of Peterson Slough late that Tuesday afternoon when he spotted a blaze orange hunting hat and what appeared to be someone waving at him.

“I was combining back and forth and out of the corner of my eye, I saw something out in the field,” the farmer shared. “How he got there, I don’t know. I’d just combined there a half hour before.”

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The farmer said he was about 150 feet away from the hunter when he noticed the hunter wave his arm.

“I thought he was friendly and just waving to me,” the farmer said. But, not understanding why the hunter was in the field in the first place, the farmer turned his combine around and headed across the field to where the man lay on the ground.

“When I got out of the combine, he was saying, ‘Help me, help me,’” the farmer shared, noting that seconds later, the hunter’s cell phone rang and the hunter asked the farmer to answer the call.

On the other end of the line was the hunter’s girlfriend, whom the hunter had called after the gun discharged. He told her he was at Peterson Slough, but she didn’t know where that was. The farmer helped direct her to the location, and a passenger in the woman’s car relayed the address to the 911 dispatcher.

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Peterson Slough, shown in an aerial photograph taken by Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District Administrator Dan Livdahl, is one area where water from the drawdown of Lake Ocheda, on entering the slough from the bottom right, slows down due to vegetation. (Submitted photo)

“It wasn’t too long and the deputy came screaming in there,” the farmer said, adding that ultimately, nearly a handful of sheriff’s deputies and Worthington police officers were on the scene, as well as the Round Lake Rescue and Sanford Worthington Ambulance.

The first deputy to arrive kept the hunter talking until medics arrived, asking the hunter what kind of gun he had and what kind of shells he was using. The hunter said he’d left the gun in the trees so he could reach the combine. The gun was recovered that night.

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The hunter also told law enforcement, who then shared with the farmer, that he knew he had to get to the combine — it was the only hope he had for survival. He was in intense pain from the gunshot wound to his shoulder and was bleeding considerably.

When the farmer found him, blood had seeped from his shoulder down his torso and through his jeans.

The farmer also learned from one of the deputies that the hunter had been using his gun as a walking stick, which is how he was accidentally shot in the shoulder. It’s unknown whether the gun was on safety, but it is believed the trigger was somehow engaged by walking through the weeds, reeds or small trees in the area by Peterson Slough.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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