GIRARD — Two men were shot in Crawford County in a hunting incident earlier this week, and the Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism said their hunting style may have been a contributing factor.
The injured men were turkey hunting using a technique known as “fanning,” and were taken to Girard Medical Center for treatment. Assistant Hunter Education Coordinator for KDWPT Aaron Austin said fanning has gained popularity recently, but is unsafe.
Turkey fanning is a technique in which hunters sit or crawl behind turkey decoys or fans made of turkey feathers. Videos of hunters using decoys or fans to sneak very close to turkeys have become popular on Facebook, according to Austin.
“It is not new, but it’s becoming very popular through videos on Facebook,” Austin said. “We have seen a lot of incidents around it, and it is absolutely not recommended as a hunting technique by Parks and Wildlife, especially the hunter safety division.”
Turkey fanning is legal even though it is not recommended. Austin said turkey hunting is one of the more dangerous types because hunters are using decoys and calling turkeys into them.
“You never want to look like the game you are hunting,” Austin said. “For turkey hunting you want to make sure you have orange on and sit back from your decoys.”
He said the main rule to focus on is number four of the 10 commandments of firearm safety: Be sure of your target and what is beyond it before pulling the trigger.
“You can never get a shot back once you pull the trigger,” Austin said. “That’s why we always want to be sure of our target and never shoot at sound or movement.”
The full list of commandments can be found on Remington’s website at www.remington.com or with a Google search.
The two injured hunters were transported by air ambulance to Freeman Hospital in Joplin. The shooter was Kenneth Dienst, 35, of West Plains, Missouri. The two victims, Justin Wiles, 34, of Hardy, Arkansas, and Gary Dienst, 32, of Highland, Arkansas, were both hit with shotgun pellets in the face and upper body while behind a turkey fan. Kenneth Dienst rendered aid to his friend and brother before transporting them to the hospital.
The three men were in Crawford County hunting from out of state. No charges have been filed at this time, and the incident is still under investigation by the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office.
— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.