HAGERSTOWN, MD. -- It took doctors 2 1/2 hours to dig 12 shotgun pellets from Richard Hartman's body after he was shot one morning while hunting in the Western Maryland woods.
Doctors closed the holes in his arms, back and scalp with 60 stitches and sent him home to recuperate from the accident, which has left him simmering in anger over the lack of a negligent-hunting law in Maryland.
"If you go and shoot a bear, you can be fined, you can lose your gun, your license and go to jail," said Hartman, 31. "If you shoot a human, you go home and watch the football game."
Unlike Pennsylvania and West Virginia, Maryland does not have a law addressing negligent shooting while hunting. However, after several hunting accidents, including one that was fatal, senators and delegates from Western Maryland have started to draft bills for introduction in the upcoming General Assembly session.
Last year, Sen. Victor Cushwa (D-Hagerstown) sponsored a negligent-hunting bill, which died in the House of Delegates after arguments that it conflicted with criminal law. This year Del. Betty Workman (D-Allegany) is one of several lawmakers drafting new proposals.
Hartman was bow hunting deer from a tree Oct. 5 on Dan's Mountain, southwest of Cumberland, when he was hit by a dozen pellets fired by a squirrel hunter.
"It knocked me forward. All I did was let out a sigh, and that's when I hollered, 'What are you shooting at, you idiot?' " Hartman said. "He came running up through the woods and said: 'I'm sorry, man. I'm sorry. You okay?' "
"I reached behind my neck and I had a whole handful of blood. I said, 'I'm bleeding pretty good. I want your name . . . . Who are you?' "
The hunter then gave Hartman a name and address that turned out to be false, and fled the woods, leaving Hartman to fend for himself. He made it to his truck and to a hospital.
"I'm just scared to go out into the woods anymore," Hartman said. "If you stiffen the laws up, I don't think you'll have this problem anymore. There has got to be something done . . . . "
Maryland's Natural Resources Police recognize that the state needs a negligent-hunting law, said Maj. Woody Willing, the agency's acting chief of field operations.
"If a person shoots a person while hunting -- either accidentally or negligently -- we can't even take his hunting license away. He could be charged with involuntary manslaughter, but that is very hard to prove. You have to prove gross negligence," Willing said. "It's a needed law."
If someone is convicted of negligent shooting or wounding a human while hunting in West Virginia, that person's hunting license is revoked for five years. Also, violators can be fined up to $1,000 and can receive up to a year in jail, said Maj. Ray Shamblin of West Virginia's Department of Natural Resources.
In Pennsylvania, if a hunter shoots at, but does not hit or injure another person, the hunter is fined $800 and could lose hunting privileges for two years, said James Beard of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.