Guide suffers eye injury after "flurry" of shots from Huntsville hunting party aiming at pheasant

Mar 22 2014 - 7:37pm

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Standard-Examiner file photo
Promotional photo from White's Ranch website.
Standard-Examiner file photo
Promotional photo from White's Ranch website.

PARADISE -- A hunting guide suffered an eye injury after he was hit by three shotgun pellets while leading a group from Huntsville pheasant hunting on a private Cache County ranch, authorities said.

Craig Bingham, 60, of Paradise, was transported to Logan Regional Hospital, where he was expected to have surgery on his eye, according to the Cache County Sheriff's Office.

The incident occurred around 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Sportsman's Paradise, a privately owned pheasant hunting club on White's Ranch in Paradise. Bingham works for Sportsman's Paradise as a hunting guide. He was acting as a guide for a group of nine hunters who are all from the Huntsville area in Weber County.

The group was approximately one mile into the property actively hunting pheasants when the accident happened.

"At one point a number of pheasants flushed from cover causing a number of people in the hunting party to fire their weapons in different directions," according to a sheriff's press release.

Bingham was standing about 80 yards in front of the hunting party on a small knoll.

"During the flurry of shots, Craig was struck by at least three pellets," the release said. "He was hit in the left eye, hand, and thigh."

Bingham was driven by a private vehicle back to the clubhouse, where he was met by an ambulance.

None of his injuries are life threatening.

Deputies have interviewed all parties involved, including Bingham, and have determined the incident to be accidental in nature. No criminal charges will be pursued.

"(Myself) being retired military, safety here is paramount," said the resort's president, Grant White. "It gives you a chance to look back and look at the protocols. ... Not a bird in the world is worth an individual's being hurt (while hunting) or a dog being hurt."

White calls Bingham "a good friend" and says he usually leads hunting expeditions at least three times per week, and almost every day when the resort gets busy.

"My concern is with him and his family," White said. "No matter what happens, when something goes into the eye like that it's not going to be the same."

He said he has never seen such a serious shooting accident at the resort, where hunters shoot between 14,000 and 18,000 birds each year. 

"It's just a shock because it's very seldom it happens," White said. "It's tough."

Visibility wasn't a problem Saturday, according to White.

"It was a beautiful day to shoot birds," he said.

A ranch worker said Bingham was one of the most experienced and popular guides at the resort.

"He's been guiding for a very long time," said the worker, who declined to give their name. "He's one of our top guys."

The employee said they were "torn up" worrying about Bingham's well being, but that they knew very few details besides what police released.

"It's one of those freak accidents. ... It was a very confused deal." 

The resort declined to comment on the experience level of the nine hunters on the excursion.

"Just imagine 300 magnificent pheasant(s), at full speed, soaring from the cliff bluff overhead, as you prepare to take aim and shoot," reads a description of the hunting activity on White Ranch's website. "This event will challenge the best shooters and sharpen your shooting skills with fast moving, high-flying excitement. ... Twenty shooting ... positions are aligned at the base of a small hill up the hunting area called Long Hollow. Pheasants are driven to flight towards the shooters."

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