Dalton Baty loved to tease and play pranks, and that may have cost the 11-year-old boy his life.
Dalton was accidentally shot by his older brother, 13, early Sunday evening as they hunted for deer on their grandmother's land a mile east of Elk Falls in Elk County. He was declared dead at the scene.
"Bless his heart, he just never had a chance," Elk County Sheriff Janet Harrington said. "It was hard for all of us."
Dalton had pleaded with his brother to delay going for a deer hunt until he returned from a weekend visit to his mother in Independence, said Lena Baty of Wichita, their grandmother.
She and the sheriff said the boys went into the woods next to the house they share with their father. The older brother wandered away from Dalton and a fifth-grade classmate of Dalton's at Moline Elementary School.
Minutes later, Dalton jumped out at his brother, Lena Baty said. The brother fired his .30-06 deer rifle.
"He thought he was shooting at a deer," Harrington said of the older brother. "Something moved, and he fired."
Lena Baty said Dalton may have been trying to tease his brother by making sounds and motions like a deer.
"This little guy's going to have a hard row," Baty said of the 13-year-old.
Authorities were continuing their investigation Monday to see whether the boys' hunt was under adult supervision, Harrington said. State law requires deer hunters under the age of 14 to have adult supervision.
"If we find that there was not any adult supervision, there could be a ticket issued for that," she said.
Authorities will also check to see whether the boys had a deer permit and had taken and passed the state's required hunter safety course.
More than 370,000 children have taken and passed the state's hunter safety course since it began, said Mike Miller of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
One of the measures of the program's success, he said, has been a steady decline in the number of hunting-related accidents. Last year's total, 13, was the lowest on record for statistics that go back to 1962.
"That doesn't reduce the tragedy any when it happens, though," Miller said.
Grief counselors were talking with students at Moline Elementary and at West Elk Junior High in Howard.
"We've had groups of students visiting with the grief counselors, as they feel the need to," said Bert Moore, superintendent of West Elk schools. "That's gone very well."
Elk County and the surrounding area are known around the country as an ideal region to hunt quail and deer, Moore said. Nearby Flint Oaks is one of only three five-star hunting lodges in the nation.
The shooting took place on the first weekend of firearms deer season, which opened last Wednesday.
"I know there were a lot of hunters out -- there were trucks parked everywhere," Moore said.
The deer were so numerous, he said, that he could see them in the fields and on the roads.
"It's a big deal," Moore said of deer season.
"Hunting and fishing seems to be in the blood of people in the area."
That won't change, he said, but the tragedy will serve as a fresh reminder of the need to be safe and responsible.
"It's a very sad, sad thing," Harrington said. "You've got an 11-year-old boy who could be anybody's son.
Dang. That's sad. My prayers go out to the friends and family of that boy. I seriously wonder about some people and what buisness they have hunting for anything, especially when they shoot at sound or motion. Scares me and I'm fearless.
My little brother was actually 10 years old and not eleven. Dalton never even went to scare them. He was TEN. ..and as for anyone wanting to comment and put there two cents in should probably just shut up. Unless this has happened to you, which I'm sure it hasn't you wouldn't even know how to feel or think about the situation. Lena Baty didn't know anything about what happened that night. I suggest if you are going to be posting articles you should really get your facts straight. maybe you should talk about how corrupt cops are down there? Maybe even why this incident was NEVER investigated longer than 24 hours? Instead of critiszing a situation you obviously know nothing about.
Whoa Whoa there. First of all, sorry for the misfortune that has been put upon you and your family. I have no idea what a tragedy like this must be like and my prayers are with you and your family. Second of all, unless there has been a post that was removed or something I see absolutely no evidence of anyone trying to portray the story as being wrong or to provide false information. This is a website of dedicated hunters who for the most part care about the sport in general and the well being of people who participate in that sport. The article that was posted was that from the Wichita Eagle, which is a pretty reliable source. As I said I am terribly sorry for you, but this incident gives no reason to start an account on a website and criticize people who are trying to spread the word about someone's well being. If anything the post's above were to try and find out as much information on the subject out of concern and respect for your brother. If anything this article being posted here may save an incident like this from happening in the future, who knows. If a post was rude or wrong towards your family and has been removed for me to not see, I am sorry for jumping the gun but there is no reason try and come after anyone. Everyone on here most likely feels for yourself and your family, and wishes them the best.
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