MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

December 3, 2013

Clues sought in shooting of hunter

Rewards for information total $1,000

By Elizabeth Ridenour
Phoenix City Editor

— A $1,000 reward is being offered for information about the person who shot a hunter in the arm last week in Cherokee County.

John Mason, 27, of Wagoner was in the Welling area with his father, and the two were leaving the woods about 6:20 p.m. Friday.

“Apparently, his dad heard the shot and heard (Mason) say something,” said Jason Chennault, Cherokee County undersheriff. “That’s how he knew he’d been shot.”

Lance Meek, the hunter education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said the department is offering a $500 reward through its Operation Game Thief program. The Game Warden Association is adding another $500.

“We had a description of a vehicle that was seen in the area,” Chennault said. “We haven’t found the vehicle. They may have witnessed something. We can’t say what they might have seen.”  

The vehicle is described as a red four-door Dodge pickup.

Mason’s condition was unavailable Monday. He had gone to W.W. Hastings in Tahlequah and was then flown to a hospital in Tulsa, Chennault said.

“His arm was pretty mangled up,” he said. “Deputies said it would take several surgeries to correct it.”

Meek said Cherokee County hasn’t had a hunting accident reported in the last four years.

“This has been an unfortunate year for Cherokee County,” he said. “Our guys are working three accidents right now. Last year in all of Oklahoma there were only six accidents. Two were fatal.

“Our hunters are doing a lot better than they were 30 years ago. They’re getting the message of safety.”

One of the two accidents in Cherokee County involved coyote hunting, and the other involved a tree stand.

“They’re relatively new to the hunting scene,” Meek said of tree stands. “You have to wear a safety harness.

“People don’t want to mess with them. They’re around $80 and take five minutes to put it on.”

Even if hunters use safety harnesses, they need to have an exit strategy.

“You need to have a cell phone or a knife when you’re hanging there,” Meek said.

Reach Elizabeth Ridenour at (918) 684-2929 or eridenour@muskogeephoenix.com.

You can help

If you have any information about the shooting that injured John Mason or the red, four-door Dodge pickup that was in the area, call Investigator James Brown at the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department at (918) 456-2583 or call Operation Game Thief at (800) 522-8039 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.