MILFORD, Maine — After a hockey game last Sunday, 14-year-old Avery Redding wanted to go ice fishing at a new spot near his house in Milford.
Avery set up his gear, turned on his GoPro, and waited for his first catch. But something more serious and unexpected happened, cutting his time on the ice short.
“I heard gunshots, which is normal, and then all of a sudden I hear one shot that I heard the whizzing of the bullet right by my head," Avery said.
Hearing gunshots is normal for Avery because his home in town is close to the Maine Youth Fish & Game Association (MYFGA), which has two gun ranges. His house is also surrounded by woods open for hunting.
His dad Matt is the President of the MYFGA and watched the video his son sent him after Avery was able to get off the ice and into the woods safely.
“I thought it might have been a slight exaggeration and then he sent me the video and right at work, right out loud I was like ‘Oh my gosh,'" Matt said.
He then showed everyone at work, who had similar reactions.
“We just couldn’t believe that how close it had to be for the camera to pick up the sound of the bullet zipping by," Matt said.
After the incident, the Maine Game Wardens launched an investigation and Matt said they found the shooter was shooting at a steel target that was only a few inches above the ground.
So, he added, if the shots missed low, the bullets would skip off the ground. Matt said the Wardens investigation found the shooter wasn't using an approved or recommended backstop, there were only a few trees between the target and the location Avery was ice fishing.
“People just need that to know you can’t shoot somewhere and not know where your bullets are going and expect it to be 100-percent fine because there’s also houses by where I was fishing," Avery said.
The problem wasn't that someone was shooting in the woods, the problem, Matt said, was that the person didn't know what was around them.
“Anybody can be a gun owner but be a responsible gun owner and do your homework before you go out shooting," he added.
Matt added it's as simple as using your smartphone to check maps and see how close you are to other houses, buildings, or in this case someone ice fishing.
The Warden Service has a page on its website dedicated to hunting safety.