A Frenchman aged in his 70s noticed some rustling in his cherry tree tree on Saturday night in north-western France and, assuming it was hungry blackbirds pillaging his fruit, he pulled out his shotgun and opened fire.
But the movement in the tree was not in fact scavenging birds, but the elderly man’s 46-year-old son who'd climbed the tree to pick some fruit, French magazine L’Express reported on Monday.
The son was rushed to a hospital and his father’s gun was seized by police.
Miraculously, despite being hit in the cheek, arm and hand, the son suffered only minor injuries that were not deemed life threatening.
This story almost qualifies as having a happy ending in comparison to some other recent and more tragic shooting accidents in France.
In October last year, The Local reported how a 61-year-old hunter accidentally killed his own son during a hunt in the Ardèche region, after mistaking him for a wild boar. The man opened fire after seeing a shadow he assumed belonged to a boar.
That same week a 6-year-old boy was killed after a dog knocked over a loaded gun during a hunt, causing it to shoot the child. In that case the owner of the gun and his 16-year-old son were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.
These two fatalities came in the wake of an 82-year-old hard-of-hearing hunter opening fire on and wounded two people out collecting wild mushrooms.The man, who had neglected to put in his hearing aid before the hunt, said he thought he was shooting at a pheasant that had popped up out of the bushes.
One of the victims was injured critically, which led to the hunter being stripped of his license for five years and having his gun confiscated.
The Association for the Protection of Wild Animals (ASPAS) which is campaigning for a ban on hunting on Sundays and for more safety measures to be introduced, denounced the “tragedies that can be added to the list of accidents that is already too long”.
Speaking to The Local previously, Pierre Athanaze, the head of ASPAS, said the laws needed to be changed in France to prevent more deaths.
“France is the only country in Europe where people can hunt every day, which is why we are the country in Europe with the most accidents."