A weeklong deer-hunting trip on Maryland's Eastern Shore for two friends ended just hours after it began Friday night when their rifle discharged as they were reloading it in their moving vehicle, killing one of the men, police said yesterday.
In a similar accident yesterday in Caroline County, Va., a 50-year-old Fredericksburg man who was wearing a blaze orange coat and hat was fatally wounded while hunting turkeys with a friend, authorities said.
In the Maryland accident, Raymond Edward Sheldon, 29, of Wheaton was pronounced dead at the scene, a farm near Centreville in Queen Anne's County, and his body was taken to the medical examiner's office in Baltimore for an autopsy, Maryland state police said.
Sheldon's companion, Darryn Neujahr of Silver Spring, was treated for shock at Kent-Queen Anne's Hospital in Chestertown and released, authorities said.
Sheldon and Neujahr, 28, had been close friends for some time, according to Sue Mathis, a family friend. On Friday, Sheldon, who Mathis said was a sales representative in Bethesda for the Marriott Corp., headed off with Neujahr for a week of hunting.
Maryland's weeklong deer-hunting season began yesterday at dawn.
State police officials said Sheldon was driving his 1983 Chevy Blazer across a field on Providence Farm near Centreville about 6:45 Friday evening, stalking a deer with a spotlight.
Police said that after firing one round from his 12-gauge shotgun and missing, Sheldon handed the weapon to Neujahr, who was riding beside him, and instructed him to load the gun with a special deer slug.
Sheldon continued driving while Neujahr reloaded the gun, police said. As Neujahr closed the gun's slot-action device, the rifle discharged and the bullet struck Sheldon in the right lower jaw and chin, killing him instantly, police said.
Police said yesterday that hunting deer at night is illegal, as is spotlighting them. Sheldon's death is being investigated by the state police.
Neujahr could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Sheldon lived in military quarters on Ratten Lane.
In the Virginia accident, James Hardbower was hunting on a private farm off Rte. 601 in Caroline County when he was shot and killed by a blast from a 12-gauge shotgun shortly before noon yesterday, reported game warden J.D. Dedrick.
Hardbower was killed by a 25-year-old hunting companion, Dedrick said, but he declined to identify the man. Dedrick said the hunter was questioned but no charges were filed.
Hardbower was with about a dozen hunters who were flushing turkeys from a brushy area, according to Dedrick. He speculated that the hunters wounded a turkey while it was in flight and that Hardbower was struck when the bird was shot a second time, after it landed.