Man fatally shoots son while deer hunting in Delaware County

Alissa Widman Neese
The Columbus Dispatch

An Elyria man unintentionally shot and killed his 28-year-old son while deer hunting in Delaware County last week.

Bradley Smith, 63, apparently mistook his son, Andrew Smith of Columbus, for a deer while hunting at dusk, said Tracy Whited, spokeswoman for the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office.

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The Smiths were hunting with a group of friends in a heavily wooded area in the 2000 block of Pollock Road, just outside the city of Delaware. The group, who were experienced hunters, had met there for more than 20 years to hunt white-tailed deer during the state’s annual deer gun-hunting week, which ended Sunday.

Whited said Andrew Smith was not wearing any orange hunting clothing when the shooting occurred about 5:45 p.m. on Dec. 2.  He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The elder Smith is not facing any charges, she said.

In Ohio, hunters are legally required to wear orange during deer-gun season while hunting from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife’s hunting and trapping regulations guide. This requirement applies statewide on both public and private land.

That day, the sun set just after 5 p.m.

“It’s just the worst kind of tragedy,” Whited said. “He thought he was shooting at a deer. It was his son.”

The Delaware County Sheriff’s office, ODNR’s Division of Willdlife, Delaware police and city fire medics responded to the scene.

A spokeswoman for ODNR’s Division of Wildlife declined comment, referring The Dispatch to the sheriff’ office. .

An estimated 310,000 hunters in Ohio participated in gun-hunting week from Nov. 30-Dec. 6, according to a news release from the division.

In total, they harvested 71,650 white-tailed deer.