WESLEY CHAPEL — A 78-year-old man was shot in a bizarre accident early Saturday when a dog bumped a loaded rifle and caused it to fire, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Billy E. Brown, the general manager and executive vice president of the Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative, was shot in the right thigh. He underwent surgery Saturday morning at St. Joseph's Hospital and was in critical but stable condition Saturday afternoon, his family said.
Brown, two friends and a bulldog set out before dawn to hunt deer, which has been a tradition of theirs for more than 25 years.
Brown and one of the other hunters were traveling down a bumpy, rocky road in a pickup truck to their hunting stands when Brown's dog got excited and bumped a high-powered Browning .308-caliber rifle, authorities said.
The dog, named Eli, was between Brown and a passenger, but it was not immediately clear how the rifles were positioned or if the safety was engaged.
Brown and his companion were about 1.5 miles into the woods from the intersection of Old Pasco and Gillette roads.
Authorities did not release the name of the other hunter in the vehicle. The investigation was ongoing.
Contact reporter Danny Valentine at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8804.