Douglas Hunter, 48, of Cody, accidentally shot himself in the right calf with his .44 caliber sidearm, according to a release from the sheriff’s office. Hunter was airlifted to the Billings Clinic Hospital in Montana, where he was listed in stable condition, according to a clinical coordinator.
Hunter’s friend, Ashley Duke, 33, of Cody, called the Park County Sheriff’s 911 Communications Center around 6 p.m. Wednesday to report the shooting.
Dispatch personnel immediately activated the Park County Search and Rescue Unit which responded to the trailhead.
According to Duke, the actual shooting occurred along the Dead Indian Trail, approximately 7 miles from the trailhead, which is located off Highway 296 at mile marker 25.
Hunter was leading a team of pack horses from the trailhead back to camp after a resupply trip. He said he was two miles from camp when the pack horses began “acting up.”
As Hunter was attempting to regain control of the team, the lead rope caught the hammer of his sidearm, causing it to discharge, striking Hunter in the calf of his right leg, according to the release.
Hunter immediately checked himself and initially did not think he had been shot. However, when he dismounted and removed his trousers, he found an entry wound, which was bleeding profusely.
He did not observe an exit wound. He then tied a bandana around his leg to slow the bleeding and according to Duke, lost consciousness for a time. Upon regaining consciousness, Hunter remounted his horse and returned to camp.
Duke immediately went to a nearby hunting camp to see if there was a satellite phone available. There was no phone however, a member of the camp with military and medical experience, returned to the Duke Camp to help with Hunter.
They checked the wound and found that it had stopped bleeding and confirmed there was no exit wound. They built a fire for Hunter and placed him in a sleeping bag to minimize the possibility of shock.
Since there was no cell service in the area, Duke rode approximately 5 miles to a location on the north end of Rattle Snake Mountain to get cell service.
Because of the nature of the injury and the remoteness of the camp, Search and Rescue personnel summoned Eagle Med Helicopter to in order to evacuate Hunter. At approximately 7 p.m., Eagle Med Helicopter landed in the meadows and airlifted Hunter to a Billings-area hospital.
Once again, Sheriff Steward had high praise for Search and Rescue personnel.
“The people of Park County can be proud of the fact that we have such dedicated group of trained volunteers ready to respond to these emergencies seven days a week, 24 hours a day,” Steward said. “It is also our good fortune to have a medical helicopter stationed here in Cody. Eagle Med has numerous times demonstrated itself to be a life-saving asset in the Park County area.”