WALES – In fading daylight Tuesday afternoon, two hunters aimed their rifles at a deer in the woods.
Both men, who lived within a few minutes’ drive of each other and were hunting separately, pulled the trigger.
One hunter, Christopher Austin, fired twice. His second shot hit an unexpected target: the other hunter, Gerard Parent.
Those details emerged Wednesday as the Maine Warden Service continued investigating the fatal shooting off East Road.
Cpl. John MacDonald of the Maine Warden Service said investigators are still trying to figure out what went wrong, including whether Parent and Austin fired their first shots simultaneously.
Austin’s bullet hit Parent in the throat, according to emergency dispatch reports.
MacDonald said it’s too early to determine whether criminal charges will be filed in Maine’s first hunting fatality this year.
“With hunting incidents, it probably will be weeks before any of that is determined,” he said.
MacDonald said investigators were trying to confirm whether both men were wearing two articles of blaze orange, as required by law.
Parent, 49, lived on East Road. Austin, 41, lives on nearby Andrews Road.
Both men were using rifles, hunting separately and pursuing the same deer, the warden service said in a news release Wednesday.
MacDonald said he didn’t know if the deer was hit, and wouldn’t say whether a deer’s body was found at the scene.
Game wardens were called at 4:19 p.m. Tuesday — about 12 minutes after sunset and 13 minutes before the state-required end of hunting for the day. Parent had been shot in woods between East Road and Route 126.
MacDonald said investigators found no evidence to suggest that darkness was a factor in the shooting. He said both men were familiar with the area.
Investigators were still at the scene in the woods late Wednesday afternoon. Yellow caution tape was strung along the road, which is lined with houses.
MacDonald said he didn’t know who reported the shooting, though witnesses were being interviewed.
The initial report to Monmouth Rescue, which responded to the call, said a hunter had been shot in the jugular vein and that lifesaving efforts were under way.
MacDonald wouldn’t comment on those details.
“Anything related to the victim’s wounds can’t be released before the medical examiner’s report,” he said.
The state medical examiner was set to do a post-mortem exam Wednesday, but the office didn’t return a call seeking comment.
Nearly two dozen game wardens and 10 state troopers responded to the shooting, including evidence response teams from the warden service and state police. The investigation continued throughout Tuesday night and resumed Wednesday morning.
The Maine Warden Service said it will continue its investigation in cooperation with the Attorney General’s Office and the medical examiner.
Maine’s season for hunting deer with rifles ends Saturday.
Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Craig Crosby can be contacted at 621-5642 or at: