ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. -- A 14-year-old is in the hospital facing multiple surgeries after he shot himself in the leg while hunting, according to the N.C. Wildlife and Resources Commission.
Officer Barry Joyce said just before sunrise this morning the juvenile was preparing to get in his deer stand in woods near Mayodan when the rifle went off.
"There was a round in the chamber. It appears the safety was in the fire position, and he was hooking the rope up to the trigger housing, area where the trigger is at."
Joyce said that combination of mistakes could have been deadly. The boy unintentionally shot himself in the upper leg.
The boy's uncle and a neighbor heard the shot and the boy's screams and both arrived at his side around the same time, said Joyce.
They were able to call first responders, and the juvenile was airlifted to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
"He is critical but stable. They're trying to save his leg. It was a pretty significant injury to the upper part of his leg," he explained.
The juvenile's name is not being released because of his age. Joyce said there are several lessons to learn in this case.
First, he said the boy was hunting alone and had never had a hunting safety course.
"You are not required to get a hunting license until you are 16," he explained. "But if you are going to hunt before that age, you need to take a hunting safety course. Once you take the certification course and get certified, it's okay to hunt on your own if it's okay with a licensed parent or guardian. Before then, you have to be right with a licensed parent or guardian so they can take immediate control of the firearm in case something goes wrong."
In North Carolina, the classes are offered for free in every county so you can be aware of safety rules and hunting laws.
For example, “All over Rockingham County it's a two buck limit. You can take all the does you want to take as long as they're tagged and registered, but bucks are strictly a two buck area," said Joyce.
That law varies depending if you are in the Western or Eastern part of North Carolina, so it's important to check with local law enforcement.
He said deer hunting is permitted 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset.
"With the family going through what they're going through right now and this kid being 14 years old, we're not looking at any charges on him," concluded Joyce. "But we want all young hunters to pay attention and take this seriously."