The Iowa Department of Natural Resources stresses safety after a series of hunting accidents over the weekend. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Officers with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) responded to four deer hunting incidents over the first weekend of December 2021 — one related to property damage, one minor injury, one serious injury and one fatality — and one related to pheasant hunting.

The DNR released the following:

— An individual was shot in the midsection by a member of his party who was shooting at a running deer in southern Muscatine County. He was transported to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. The investigation is ongoing. 

— An individual was treated and released from the hospital in Waukon after a slug grazed his right hand and forearm during a deer drive near Lansing, in Allamakee County. 

— A house was struck by an unknown shooter near the Howard County town of Elma. 

— A hunter was killed after being struck in the torso while hunting the Red Rock Wildlife Area in Marion County. It’s the first hunting related fatality of 2021. The incident remains under investigation.

— A pheasant hunter received four pellets to the neck and face area while hunting in Calhoun County. He was transported to the hospital in Sac City where he was treated and released. 

Authorities identified 37-year-old Nathan Allen Sharpnack, of Winterset, as the victim in the fatal hunting incident that occurred in Marion County on Saturday, Dec. 4.

According to authorities, Sharpnack was participating in a deer drive on the Whitebreast Arm of Lake Red Rock with a large group of hunters when he was fatally struck in the torso.   

The investigation into the hunting related shooting is ongoing at this time.

An autopsy is pending on Sharpnack at the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner in Ankeny.

The first of Iowa’s two shotgun deer hunting seasons ends Dec. 8, 2021. Second shotgun deer season runs from Dec. 11-19. An estimated 120,000 hunters are expected to participate in one of the two seasons.

Jamie Cook, hunter education coordinator for the Iowa DNR, said these incidents underscore the importance of putting together a hunting plan that identifies the role and location of each member of the hunting party and then following the plan when in the field. 

“The hunting plan is a step-by-step playbook for how the hunt will unfold that includes reviewing safe hunting practices, avoid target fixation, and drives home the point of not just identifying the deer, but what is beyond the deer, before taking the shot. It’s the most essential part of every hunt,” Cook said. 

He also stressed the importance of wearing more than the minimum amount of blaze orange than is required for the deer gun seasons. Iowa law requires one of the following pieces of external clothing of solid blaze orange: vest, jacket, coat, sweatshirt, sweater, shirt or coveralls. “You can’t have too much blaze orange on. If the color has started to fade, it’s time to replace it. You want to be seen from all sides,” he said. 

Cook said it’s also each hunter’s responsibility to know and understand their limitations as a hunter and the firearms capability and to stay within those. 

“This is especially true when utilizing a rifle for the first time during the shotgun season. Hunters need to exercise good judgment when taking a shot and remember that when using a higher capacity magazine that they could be shooting over a longer period of time, and possibly covering a larger area, so they need to be even more aware of what’s going on around them and not get fixated on the target,” he said.

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