A deer hunter accidentally fired his rifle through his vehicle and into a building on Cody’s West Strip last month.
No one was injured in the Oct. 28 incident, which took place at a Wyoming Game and Fish Department game check station on West Yellowstone Avenue, near the South Fork turnoff.
A Cody police report on the incident says the hunter, Charles Lance Mathess, had attempted to unload his rifle while waiting for a game warden.
“Mathess reported that he operated the bolt of the firearm several times and then removed the magazine,” wrote Cody Police Officer Seth Horn, adding that, “his finger was on the trigger and as he set the rifle down he negligently discharged the rifle.”
Horn found that the round traveled through the rear passenger side door of Mathess’ Dodge Ram, crossed Yellowstone Avenue and struck a vent on a building that houses The Best of the West; the vent is located about 20 feet off the ground. Horn’s report says a representative of Best of the West — a company that produces TV shows and equipment related to long range hunting — was not concerned about the damage.
The officer concluded in his report that Mathess’ actions “did not rise to the level of a violation of Wyoming State Statute.”
Dan Smith, the Cody Region wildlife supervisor for Game and Fish, called the Oct. 28 incident “a good example of how accidents can and do happen.”
As part of its general work on safety issues, Smith said the Game and Fish asks hunters to assume their gun is loaded, control the direction of their muzzle and know what’s beyond their target.
“I’m glad nobody got hurt,” he added of the incident at the South Fork turnoff. “I’m thankful for that.”
Mathess is the public affairs officer and search and rescue coordinator for the Park County Sheriff’s Office, which are civilian positions; the police report notes that he was off-duty at the time of the incident.