According to Radio Iowa, 36-year-old William Rancourt was hunting peasants in a public area in Wright County around 1:20 p.m. He put his gun on the ground and one of the hunting party's dogs stepped on a 12-gauge shotgun, firing it into the air.
“Long story short — it was really a freak accident – one of the hunters in the hunting party set his gun down on the ground and one of the dogs in the hunting party just stepped just right, or just wrong, onto the trigger guard of that shotgun, and the gun fired,” Iowa Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Ken Lonneman told Radio Iowa.
Rancourt was in a hunting party with four others. He was rushed to a nearby hospital and was lucky. He was standing 22 yards from the shotgun when it went off.
“He’s fortunate that the distance was as far as it was, because shotguns are extremely dangerous at close ranges,” Lonneman told Radio Iowa. “At 22 yards he caught most of the shot pattern in his back from his waist up to his neck. He was in x-rays yesterday as they were determining if they would require surgery to remove the pellets, or if they could get most of them with a forceps.”
Lonneman said if Rancourt was standing three yards from the shotgun, it would have been fatal. He believes that the dog that stepped on the shotgun was Rancourt's own.
Although it's a rare occurrence, a 2015 Washington Post report found that at least 10 Americans were shot by dogs between 2004 and 2015. As CNN reported at the time, a dog appropriately named Trigger stepped on a 12-gauge shotgun that shot at a hunter in Indiana in 2015.
Cases like these can be used to teach the importance of hunting safety.
"What we want to emphasize to the hunters is a friendly reminder. We can learn from these people’s mistakes — always unload your gun and double-check the safety before putting a firearm down,” Lonneman told Radio Iowa. “Whether it is on the ground or leaning it up against a fence or a tree, because you never know when something like that is going to knock it over.”