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Man shot in Waverly hunting accident dies

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SUSSEX COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) -- A member of a hunt club who was shot in the head Monday has died in the hospital.

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries said that 61-year-old Thomas Michael Harris of Disputanta was pronounced dead at 10:40 a.m. at VCU Medical Center.

Officials said Harris was shot between Waverly and Wakefield on a 40-acre plot of land that a hunt club frequently uses dogs to scare deer out of the dense brush.

Soon after, in that open field in Sussex County, close to train tracks, Game and Inland Fisheries conservation police were called to the scene of the accidental shooting.

"I heard sirens and diesel trucks going to what we call the back 40,” said Bernard Jones, whose property is next to the one used by hunters Monday.

Investigators said Harris was shot in the head during what's called, "running the dogs," a hunting method where dogs are released to chase deer out of dense brush.

"A group of men conducting an organized hunt on the property were running deer with chasing dogs,” said Sgt. Tim Worrell.  “Another hunter was shot."

Game and Inland Fisheries said that 19 hunting accidents have been reported statewide since the beginning of hunting season in September.

In eight of those, hunters were shot accidentally.

Worrell said that is why precautions need to be taken.  "Make sure you wear blaze orange: it's the law,” Worrell said.  “Communicate with other hunters and know where you are shooting prior to pulling the trigger."

Police were back on the scene Tuesday locating a shot path and recreating the scene.

"I don't know him personally, but anytime there's a tragic incident , you feel bad,” said Jones.  He says he allows hunting on his property as well, but it comes with strict conditions.

"We rent hunting rights out to a club,” he said.  “We make sure they carry insurance for unfortunate accidents and ask them to be courteous."

Officials said the incident is under investigation and charges, if and when, will be determined at a later date.

Hunting season ends Jan. 4.


  • M.L. Adams

    “…Game and Inland Fisheries told CBS 6 that this 19th hunting incident since September…”

    Is it the Game and Inland Fisheries spokesman who cannot speak in a complete sentence, or the Channel 6 reporter?

  • Garrett

    Lee. I hope you get hit by a bus. A man with family is in hospital with life threatening injuries. I can only imagine what party you support.

    • Bob

      Well, the overpopulation of deer is a serious problem…. If we wouldn’t be such cowards about accepting the presence of cougars to reduce the deer population we’d be better off – but the concept of a cougar killing a jogger somehow outweighs the dozens killed in car accidents due to deer overpopulation in popular thought. …sad that accidents happen. …sad that anything living is killed – deer, cougars, hunters or joggers. The best thing to do is to minimize the human lives lost, and that would be accomplished through more carefully monitored hunting and reintroduction of cougars. Afraid of cougars? Stay the F. home. People and animals DIE. Camping exposes you to that risk. The only way to deal with it is to minimize it, and the studies on how to do so are already out there. Accidental shootings are tragic, and recon by fire is not acceptable in hunting. Don’t shoot if you are not absolutely sure of your target and what’s behind it; don’t camp or jog if you’re not willing to shoot, and don;t live in VA if you support gun control beyond proficiency tests and psychological screening. Deer kill more people than guns in some places in the US. Ruminate upon that, ungulate-lover.

      • Seymour Butts

        Billions in vehicle damage
        Medical bills just from vehicular accidents
        Increased Insurance prices varying on where you live
        Billions in agriculture lost due to eatting crops
        Ticks!!! Most common being the deer tick which carries lyme disease. Horrible slow way to die with no cure. The rate of infection is rapidly rising.
        Deer are not needed in the North American food chain! All of these issues Just so people can have fun shooting deer for sport. They are not hunted for food, It would be cheaper to raise your own deer or go to the grocery store. just the hunt club fees alone are tremendous (for buying land rights to hunt, not to mention Other things such as Gun, dedicated hunting truck, fuel in the gas guzzler which runs up and down the road all day (seriously). Warm and cold hunting gear, Hunting license and of course ammunition.

        Deer need to be eradicated!

        Nearly every American is effected in a negative manner, just so a small portion of the population can have fun. Guess who influences and protest the stricter laws? They have groups tht will travel in masses just to raise hell over any proposed laws.

    • scars

      You’re right. It really isn’t funny to joke about a deer getting revenge on the hunter when we all know that someone who hunts deer faces no threat whatsoever from the animal. He does, however, face a great deal of threat from overeager hunters willing to shoot at anything that moves just to bag a trophy for the mantle, maybe have one venison steak (if he can’t pawn it off on someone else) and convince himself that he is still manly no matter how eviscerated he feels in his dead end job or lackluster retirement. I hope and pray that this man recovers and if he does not, at least his family can take comfort in the fact that he spent his last moment doing something he loved.

  • sasha

    This doesn’t surprises me when people in waverly/sussex county will let felones hunt with out a license. Waverly hunting club is famous for it. I didn’t think a felon can hunt with a gun?

    • Rick Dagenais

      If you have evidence of this occuring, bring it forward. I’m sure SGT Williams with the VSP ,SGT Worrell with the DGIF or Capt Giles with the Sussex Sheriffs Dept would be interested in knowing that. Personally, I don’t believe it, because I know most of the people that hunt with Waverly, Waverly Youth, Crossroads, Beaverdam, J&B, Green Level, Homeville, Drivers.. etc, etc and I don’t kow of any felons among them. all of these clubs are pretty straightforward and do not break the law and would certainly report a known violator…

      • Seymour Butts

        Even if true, it’s probably a waste of time to look into. If they’re hunting, they’re doing something proactive and noncriminal like. Yes I’m aware it’s illegal. I’d rather them be allowed to hunt with family and friends than for their type to sit back bored with nothing to do while everyone else gets to do something they can’t. It would give them plenty of free time away from family and friends where they can scheme and commit real crimes that will actually cause harm…..

  • Correct-Mess

    Only the “Correct Nazis”, with strict intolerance of all others in their
    abounding love, care and benevolence are “allowed” authoritarian or dictatorial Rule over rights, thoughts, and opinions as Party Dictates..

  • kitty

    I say,leave the deer alone…its their world we are moving in on if u like hunting go to a game resort…..all animals were here before us….so let them be….and terrible accidents wouldn’t happen like this…..

    • snatale1

      First of all, he WAS at a hunt club, did you even read the article? And whether he was or not doesn’t make a difference. Human Beings are carnivores, if you want to be a vegetarian that’s your crazy choice to make. But don’t sit here and pretend the natural food chain is to blame for him being shot, negligence is!

      Also the odds of dying while hunting are 1 in 67,000
      the odds are dying in a car accident are 1 in 83!!!

      Are you never going to drive again?

      Make some sense!

  • IhuntPeople

    He got exactly what he deserved….hunting little innocent animals who cannot shoot back. I hope more of these wonna be warriors get shut.

  • kitty

    Snatale1……I’m a meat eater….so pluck off……I’m giving my own opinion I am able to do that right?…..no a game resort idiot his was in a hunt club locally in va..butthole…..anyway you take a risk of getting shot when hunting with other idiots…….so take your ” statics” and shovel it where the good lord split you…….

  • luis gomez

    My prayers go out the hunters familiy. I myself being a hunter can only imagine the loss his familiy is feeling. The only advice I can give. Practice the saftey regulations needed.

  • Donna

    I do not condone hunting any shape or form that’s great having dogs to flush out deer hunting should be banned!!!!

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