ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV.com) - A hunter accidentally shot a hiker near Weldon Spring, Mo. Saturday, believing he was a turkey, police told News 4.
The shooting happened just before 12:30 p.m., on the Lewis Clark Trail, which is in the Weldon Spring Conservation Area near Highway 94. The man was shot in the chest and crews had to use a utility task vehicle to get the the man in the wooded terrain. He was airlifted to a local hospital with serious, life threatening injuries, a spokesperson from the St. Charles Ambulance District said.
His condition has not been updated as of this writing.
Spring turkey hunting season in Missouri runs from April 19-May 9, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation. The Lewis And Clark Trail has seen increased activity during the pandemic, and many residents are wondering why hunting is allowed in an area with so much human traffic.
"I think it would be appropriate to keep heavily-trafficked areas like this just open for hikers," said Perry Gabbard, who hikes in the area frequently. "There's children and older people, I see a lot of age groups. Over time it just decreases the probability of it happening."
Gabbard had been hiking in the area just a day before the shooting happened, and said it could have been anyone who ended up struck by gunfire.
"I was actually out hiking in Cuiver River State Park and my son texted me and said, 'Hey Dad where are you?' And I was shocked. He said someone had been shot on the Lewis Trail and I had just been there on Friday before between eight and noon," he said.
The Missouri Department of Conservation said they're reviewing the incident, but don't have any immediate plans to make safety improvements. They say occurrences like this are rare, but hunters are still shocked it happened at all.
"That’s pretty alarming, it’s a pretty large mistake and it’s not easy to do," said Luke Niemeyer, a hunter and hiker. "I don’t know what else you could do. A turkey is only two fee tall, a human is what, five feet? And there’s two different sounds and it just should have never happened."