By Michael R. Moser
A Crossville man hunting on the state's management area Saturday morning accidentally shot himself when he attempted to holster a handgun, according to reports.
David Gates, 65, of Deer Creek Dr., was carried from near where the shooting occurred, near a site called Hall's Field, to a waiting helicopter at a placed known locally as Sims Lanford Field, and then flown to The University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville where he was treated for his injury. His condition was not available at press time, but reports indicate he is still in serious condition.
Gates told sheriff's deputies and Tennessee Wildlife Management Agency officers he was attempting to holster his .380 handgun when it accidentally fired, with the bullet striking him in the left chest and exiting his back.
Gates and Regenold Brown, Sundrop Lane, were hunting Saturday in the area of Otter Creek Rd. on the Tennessee Wildlife Management Area when the mishap occurred, shortly before 9 a.m.
Brown told investigators he heard a shot and then hollered to Gates to see if he was the one who had fired. When he did not get a response, he walked to where his hunting partner was and found him lying on the ground.
Brown contacted authorities by cell phone, launching a search of the area by the Cumberland County Emergency Medical Services, Cumberland County Fire Department, Cumberland County Sheriff's Department and TWRA officers. Cumberland County Rescue Squad also responded to assist.
According to Deputy Jeff Fitzgerald's report, a computer check showed that Gates does not have a handgun carry permit.
TWRA spokesman Dan Hicks confirmed this, adding that it was illegal to hunt with a handgun with a barrel less than four inches long.
"We still don't know why he was armed with that gun on the management area because it is illegal to hunt with," said Hicks. The spokesman added that the incident remains open and charges may be pending.