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Hunting gunshot victim still hospitalized; few incidents reported

:A 45-year-old Ellsworth man remained at Regions Hospital in St. Paul after being struck in the abdomen by a bullet fired 200 yards from a companion's rifle while the two were hunting deer near Maiden Rock a week ago.

Tad Eggenberger was struck by a 30.06 cal. bullet which had been fired at a buck Eggenberger had flushed from a fenceline thicket, DNR Warden Brad Peterson said Tuesday. The other hunter was standing across a picked bean field and Eggenberger wouldn't have been completely obscured by the foliage. 

Both men were wearing blaze orange clothing. They were part of a party of eight people hunting together.

Pierce County Sgt. Pete Koch said the shooting happened shortly before 8 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 27, in a farm field southeast of the intersection of County Road CC and 150th Avenue in the town of Maiden Rock. 

Upon arrival, a sheriff's deputy found Eggenberger lying on the ground with a single gunshot wound to his lower waist area. A deputy and a First Responder provided aid until ambulance personnel arrived. 

Eggenberger was transported by medical helicopter Regions. He was listed in good condition on Tuesday.

Koch said the shooting appears accidental but remains under investigation. Peterson said final reports will be forwarded to the District Attorney for his review.

Deputies were assisted by Maiden Rock Ambulance and First Responders, Plum City firefighters, a paramedic from Ellsworth and Warden Peterson.

Peterson said  the nine-day season was the slowest he's ever worked in terms of violations. Cold, windy weather on the opener probably contributed, he said.

From his perspective, hunters in Pierce County didn't flip over the chance to use rifles, versus shotguns, this year. Peterson said he checked 41 hunters on opening day, Nov. 23, and only four were using rifles although rifle use was probably more prevalent in the hilly southwestern reaches of the county.

Another shooting incident involved a bullet striking a parked car. Although county deputies handled that investigation, he said the vehicle was owned by one of the individuals involved in a deer drive and no one was inside when it was hit.